Wholly Posole?

Who doesn’t love posole in the wintertime?  Technically posole is Spanish for hominy. Practically speaking it is the common name for a Mexican soup made with pork or chicken, broth and spices including chile. It is comfort food with a kick!

But what if you are vegetarian or vegan? Chile water and hominy doesn’t quite cut it. I came a cross a recipe using butternut squash and hominy in a spicy broth (either chicken broth or vegetable broth) that I wanted to try and, if was good, recommend it to my chile-loving vegetarian daughter. I have to say that even a carnivore like me really enjoyed it and I had two big bowls of the experimental batch.

Butternut Squash Posole with traditional garnishes of shredded cabbage, radishes and sliced avocado. There were warm tortillas on the side.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH POSOLE

4 servings – 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup canola oil

About 1 qt. butternut squash cubes (1.75 lbs)

1/2 cup diced onion

¾ cup kosher salt

2 Tbsp tomato paste

1 Tbsp each finely chopped garlic and chili seasoning powder

l-1/2tsp ground cumin

½ tsp. dried oregano

1 qt. reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 can(25.0z) hominy, drained and rinsed

½ cup finely shredded green cabbage

1 lime, cut into wedges

1 avocado, peeled and thinly sliced

1 or 3 radishes, thinly sliced

warm corn tortillas.

METHOD

  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add squash, onion and ¾ tsp. salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables begin to soften, 7 t0 8 minutes. Add tomato paste, garlic, chili seasoning, cumin and oregano and cook 1 minute, stirring often.

Add broth and hominy and bring to a simmer. Simmer uncovered, until squash is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

  1. Spoon into bowls and serve with cabbage, lime, avocado, radishes and a basket of warm tortillas.

This is a simple recipe if you do you prep by grouping things that go together ahead of times – seasonings all together, things that can need to be cooked all together and garnishes all together. Don’t let the seemingly long list of ingredients intimidate you.

CONFESSIONS

I am vegetarian friendly, but not a vegetarian.  I used low-sodum chicken broth because I keep it in my pantry. I put butter on the warm tortillas because i like them that way.

Green Posole

Cold weather is here. It’s the time for comfort food to warm spirit and the body. I’ve made posole with nixtamal, a slaked corn that eventually becomes hominy. I like the firmer texture of nixtamal, but it is an acquired taste for most people. I also have made a green chile and potato soup enriched with butter and cream based on a recipe from a now defunct El Paso restaurant. And what would the winter holiday season in El Paso be without tamales? I’ve already enjoyed red pork, chicken and green chile and cheese and green chile tamales.  I’d debating crashing the party when my niece and her sisters spend an afternoon making tamales. It is a lot of work and many hands make it a lot of fun.  FYI, the masa used in making tamales and corn tortillas is ground nixtamal!

After all these rich and comforting cold weather treats, I needed to get out a recipe I’ve made before and make a lighter version of posole. Posole is the Spanish name for what is called hominy in English. It is also the name for a stew made using hominy.  There are pork and red chile posoles and chicken and green chile posoles. They are traditionally garnished with oregano and chopped onion, grated cheese and, sometimes, crunchy fried narrow strips of corn tortilla. My lighter posole uses seafood and tomatillos, serrano peppers and hominy for a very different green posole.  The original recipe calls for chunks of cod.  I like to add a few shrimp to the broth for color and flavor.  As with anything delicious, there’s some prep involving chopping, but it is worth the effort in the end.

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Green posole with cod and shrimp in a tomatillo/cilantro/serrano pepper and clam juice broth garnished with cilantro and radish slices. I had extra sliced serrano for garnish, but after tasting the broth, decided it had enough kick by itself!  A lighter, herbier counterpart to porky posole rojo, this tasty stew is wonderful on a crisp winter night.

Green Posole with Cod and Cilantro

 Ingredients

4 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 serrano chiles, thinly sliced, divided
  • 8 medium tomatillos (about 1¼ pounds), husks removed, rinsed
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves with tender stems, plus more for serving
  • 1 pound cod fillet
  • (optional: 1 dozen shelled, raw shrimp)
  • 1 15-ounce can white hominy, rinsed
  • 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
  • 3 small radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced
  • Lime wedges (for serving)

 Method

Heat oil in a large pot over medium. Cook shallots, garlic, and half of chiles, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, 6–8 minutes.

Meanwhile, purée tomatillos in a blender until smooth.

Add half of tomatillo purée to pot and cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup cilantro to remaining purée in blender and blend until smooth; set aside.

Add cod, shrimp if using, hominy, clam juice, and 1 cup water to pot. Bring to a simmer and gently cook over medium-low until cod is opaque throughout and beginning to flake, 8–10 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in reserved raw tomatillo-cilantro purée, breaking cod into large chunks; season with salt and pepper.

Divide stew among bowls and garnish with radishes, cilantro, and remaining chile slices. Serve with lime wedges.

Unbelieveable: Tomatillos and Seafood Make Great Green Posole!

Thumbing through my foodie e-mails, a recipe for Green Posole with Cod and Cilantro caught my eye.  Something that sounds that unusual has to be tried, so off to the store for tomatillos, serrano chiles, clam juice, cod and a few other odds and ends for the recipe.  I was ahead of the game with somethings already in the larder.

There’s a little chopping in the prep, but isn’t there always? After the chopping you get to use the blender and then it’s a skate all the way with just one good stewpot on the stove.

The recipe calls for two serrano chiles.  One is  chopped and pureed in the soup; the other is sliced thin and used as garnish. A generous sprinkling of sliced raw serrano proved to be too much of a good thing.  Should you choose to make this stew, go easy on the raw chile garnish.  At first bite, I was afraid the whole dish was too hot to eat.  After fishing out the garnish chiles, the stew was just right on the sneezing, tearing and coughing scale of hot things we love to eat: zippy without pain!

My supermarket had a special on cod this week and there was one half-pound portion left when I got there, so I improvised and added raw shrimp which I added to the stew when the cod was nearly finished. It was a good decision.

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Green Posole with Cod, Shrimp and Cilantro – pre-garnish so you can see the cod and shrimp. On the side, warm corn tortillas with a light schmear of buttah and lime wedges.

Green Posole with Cod, Shrimp and Cilantro

Ingredients

2 TBSP olive oil

2 medium shallots, chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 serrano chiles, thinly sliced, divided

about 1-1/4 lbs tomatillos (about 8 medium), husks removed and the fruit rinsed. I quartered them before putting them in the blender.

Kosher salt and course ground black pepper

1 cup cilantro leaves with tender stems, plus more for serving

1 lb cod fillet

1 15 oz. can hominy, rinsed

1 8 oz. bottle clam juice

1 cup water

3 small radishes, thinly sliced for garnish

lime wedges, for serving

Method

Active time: 40 minutes

Heat oil in a stew pot over medium heat. Cook shallots,garlic and half of the chiles, stirring occasionally until soft and fragrant but not browned, 6-8 minutes

Meanwhile, purée tomatillos in blender until smooth.

Add half of tomatillo puree to pot and cook until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup cilantro to remaining purée in blender and blend until smooth; set aside.

Add cod, hominy, clam juice and 1 cup water to pot. Bring to a simmer and gently cook over medium-low heat until cod begins to be opaque.  Add shrimp and let cod and shrimp finish cooking together and cod begins to flake. Remove from heat. Stir in raw tomatillo-cilantro purée, breaking cod into chunks. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide stew among bowls (makes four servings), and garnish with radishes, :cilantro and (at your own risk) remaining chiles.  Star slow with the chiles and add more as you can handle them.  I eat a lot of chile and the raw serrano slices were very hot. I did have seconds of the stew and added a few chile slices, but not as many as I had the first time!

NOTE: To Emily, my vegetarian – I think you could substitute vegetable broth for the clam juice and lightly pan browned cubes of firm tofu and enjoy this dish very much. The tofu would pick up the herbie flavors of the broth nicely.

Taste It, Take It and Make It Your Own

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Jim’s Chipotle Black Bean Soup with a side of Krab Salad stuffed long green chile served cold.

I had lunch at the Corner Bakery Cafe the other day. I had their Sriracha Black Bean Soup. It was so good I wanted to lick the bowl. Rich and savory with just the right hint of cumin. I decided to try to make it at home.
Of course, I came up with some ideas about how I might make my own version rather that try to exactly replicate theirs. And, I wanted an appropriate side dish, so the gears were really humming as I strolled through the market.

I decided to use Cholula Chipotle Chile Sauce instead of Sriracha in the soup. I bought a favorite krab and green chile salad from the deli to stuff a roasted long green chile and made a cool relleno on the side to complement the hot soup. I keep peeled roasted green chiles in my refrigerator almost all the time.

Jim’s Chipotle Black Bean Soup

Ingredients

3/4 cup sofrito (recipe below)

2 cups low sodium chicken broth, divided

1 cup water

2 can’s low sodium black beans, rinsed

1 large clove garlic, diced and smeared with a pinch of salt in to a paste using the side of your knife blade. This technique works well when adding garlic into any dish. You don’t get the little pieces of diced garlic as a surprise in some bites.

1/2 tsp cumin

1-1/2 tablespoons Cholula Chipotle Sauce or more to taste. You could also use the adobo from a can of chipotle chiles, but it would not have the same flavor as the bottled sauce.

Sofrito

A sofrito is like a mirepoix – a simmered mix of aromatic vegetables the make a flavor base for a soup or other dish.

Ingredients

two carrots, peeled and diced

two stalks celery, peeled and diced (I always take the strings off celery with a vegetable peeler.)

1/2 small onion

3 scallions, whites, light green and some dark green sliced on the bias in quarter inch slices

Method

I ran my diced vegetables through my electric chopper to make a very fine dice so they would cook.

Simmer the vegetables in a cup of the chicken broth until tender and most of the broth has been taken up. If needed, add a little water to be sure they are very tender.

Remove from heat and let cool. You are going to return them to the chopper and it will make a steamy mess if you put them in while too hot.

While the sofrito cools, heat the black beans in the remaining chicken broth and water, add the garlic, cumin and chile sauce and a good pick of sliced scallion and simmer.

When the sofrito has cooled a bit, return it to the food chopper, add a little water and purée it.  You can also use a food mill or your blender.

Add the sofrito to the bean mixture, stir well and let simmer so it can thicken the soup.  If you want a wetter soup, strain the sofrito and use only the liquid. It’s a matter of personal taste.

When the soup has thickened, dish it up and garnish with sliced scallion.

I bet the soup would have been better the second day if there had been any left to keep.

Cool Relleno

1/2 lb deli krab salad (my deli make four kinds, I prefer the one with green chile.

2 roasted and peeled long green chiles, stems on.

Slit the long green chiles on one side and carefully stuff them with the krab salad. Keep refrigerated until ready serve.

One of my favorite servers used to bring me guacamole cool rellenos while holding the chilled plate with a towed hand. He’s admonish me to “Be careful, it’s a very cold plate.”

 

Looks can be Deceiving and Still be Delicious

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White soup, white bowl – the picture of bland?  NOT SO!  This bold flavored soup has a base of leeks, fennel and parsnip sweated in a little butter until tender. The savory vegetables were simmered in a  pear juice reduction followed by the addition of chopped cauliflower and diced pear chicken broth.  When the cauliflower and pear were cooked soft, the mixture was pureed in a blender.  The puree was returned to the pan and a little cream and lemon juice were stirred in as it reheated.  This amazing flavor combo is a keeper in the recipe file.  If I had had a little fresh French tarragon, I’d have used it for garnish and  a little color accent for the soup.

THE RECIPE:  Cauliflower, Pear and Fennel Soup

4 – 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 oz. (4 TBSP) unsalted butter

3 medium leeks, white and light-green parts only, rinsed well and sliced 1/8″ thick (about 3 cups)

1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and chopped (about 1- 1/2 cups)

1 medium parsnip, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 cup)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup pear juice

7 cups lower-salt chicken broth or water

1 small head cauliflower (about 1-1/2 lbs) chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (about 5 cups)

1 large ripe pear, peeled, cored and chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)

1 TBSP chopped fresh tarragon; more for garnish

1/2 cup heavy cream; more for garnish if desired

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

TECHNIQUE:

Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Add the leeks, fennel, parsnip and 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft – 5 to 8 minutes.

Add the pear juice and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to a syrupy consistency.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Add the cauliflower, pear and another 1 tsp of salty and 1’2 tsp of pepper.  Reduce heat to medium low, partially cover and cook until the cauliflower is very soft, about 40 – 45 minutes.  Stir in the tarragon.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth and transfer to a large bowl.  To puree hot foods in a blender, remove the knob from the appliance lid.  Add the hot foods, put the lid on the blender and and cover the hole with a folded kitchen towel.  This will allow the hot food’s steam to vent out of the blender safely without blowing the lid off and coating you and the kitchen with hot puree.  Return the soup to the original pot and stern in the cream and reheat.  Stir in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve topped with a thin swirl of cream and a sprinkle of tarragon.

AND, THE REST OF DINNER…

Having that soup as a first course called for something extra special for dinner.  Yesterday was another lucky day at the used meat bin.  More veal chops!  I lightly breaded the chops and sautéed them.  While they rested, I made a pan sauce flavored with juice from the rest of the lemon used in the soup.  On the side I served a “Carnival” acorn squash, sliced and drizzled with a couple of teaspoons of maple syrup.  While green acorn squash have a tender and edible skin, learned that the Carnival squash skin was not tender when cooked.  It was pretty on the plate, but the flesh had to be spooned out of the slices.  Next time, I’ll serve it in halves or quarters to make scooping a little easier.  That squash is so colorful that it would be criminal not show off the multicolored skin on the plate.

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Carnival squash’s tough skin was a surprise. The tender veal chop compensated for it nicely.

 

 

It’s the old What’s on Hand and Whats at the Deli Challenge!!!!

In the mood for something seafood, but holding out for grilled salmon on Friday night.  What to do?  Ah,  there are KrabKakes at the grocery’s meat block.  Tasty, even if a crab never came near them.  Smear some tartar sauce on them and it is even more of a treat. But still not seafoody enough, so in the pantry there were a couple of cans of chopped clams, a couple of small potatoes in the basket and, in the fridge, some Better Than Bouillon Fish Base, some celery, half an onion and about 1/4 cup of heavy cream.  Sounds like an approximation of clam chowder might save the day or evening as it were.  Surprise! There were a couple of ears of corn hiding in the veggie drawer.

Chop and sauté the onion until soft. Dice the potatoes and celery so they’ll cook quickly. Add water and fish base per label instructions and stir until mixed. Add potatoes and let them cook until soft, the mash about half in the pot so the broth will thicken.  Add two cans of chopped clams and their juice and simmer a few minutes.  There should be about 1-1/2 cups of liquid at this point.  In a two cup measure, mix cream and plain milk to get a half cup or so.  If you’re like me, you add a healthy pat of butter to compensate for diluting the cream.  Take some hot broth from the pot and add it to the cream mixture to melt the butter and help keep the cream from breaking.  Turn off heat and add cream mixture to the hot pot and stir in.  Serve with the KrabKakes and boiled corn on the cob and pretend you’re in New England for a little while.  Be grateful  you are only having wind in dust in West Texas and not the storms in the north, east and south. Keep the storm victims in your thoughts and prayers.

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Thank you for Sharing, Karen!

Good friend Karen Garcia shared her new cookbook Seasonal Southwest Cooking by Barbara Pool Fenzl of Phoenix with me.  It is beautiful book full of exciting recipes and wonderful southwest photos.  It is costing me a fortune in ink and paper to copy all the recipes that sound so good!

Yesterday, I decided to try my hand at some of the goodies in the book.  I began with a Tomatillo and Cucumber Soup.  The combination sounded interesting and it is served chilled.  Since we’ve been hitting the 90s this week, a chilled soup sounded very good.  Ingredients are onion, garlic, chicken broth, roasted poblano chiles (I had long green chiles in the fridge, so I used them instead.) tomatillos and a peeled and seeded hot house cucumber.  After cooking simmering those ingredients until the tomatillos and cucumber are tender, you take the base soup off the heat, and stir in a minced and seeded jalapeño, lime juice and chopped cilantro and let it cool.  When it is cool, puree it all, stir in a little heavy cream and let it chill for a couple of hours or overnight. Serve it with a sprinkle of chopped green onion and a garnish of more chopped cilantro.   It was soooooo gooooooood last night.  I can’t wait to try the left-overs today after the flavors have had more time to blend.

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This Gringo Gourmet is always looking for something new to do with prickly pear cactus.  Fenzl has a recipe for an Orange, Jicama and Nopalito (cactus) salad that sounded good.  The author used jarred nopalitos.  I just can’t do that, so I decided to gamble and try raw cactus in the salad instead.  I julienned the jicama (tricky because the jicama is not as solid as you might think), then, I sliced whole prickly pear pads into julienne sticks.  I used supremes (individual segments) of small navel oranges.  Next time I’ll use larger oranges because they are easier to work with and they will show up more in the salad.  The recipe also called for a jar of pimentos.  I don’t care much for pimentos, so I left them out and didn’t miss them at all!  The salad is dressed with an excellent orange vinaigrette: orange juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, honey, crushed anise seed and a tiny dash of cayenne pepper and salt and black pepper to taste.  It would be a lovely dressing on any salad.

By chance, I had taken some lamb loin chops from the freezer to thaw a couple of days ago.  I had to try the Spicy Lamb Chop recipe.  The recipe is for a rub with garlic, coriander, cayenne pepper, salt, cilantro and olive oil.  I grilled the chops to medium rare. The spicy savory lamb chops were perfect with the crispy and slightly sweet salad.

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Something New for the Culinary Arsenal – Fish Base

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I have enjoyed using Better Than Bouillon Beef Base for quite some time.  When you don’t have time to roast bones and make stock, it can add a rich depth to soups, stews and sauces.  Yesterday, I discovered that Better Than Bouillon has a  new Fish Base. I know of only one place in El Paso that carries canned fish stock and I didn’t want to drive that far .  I tried the Fish Base and I am delighted with it.  I used it to make this satisfying Salmon Chowder.  I couldn’t find my recipe from a magazine, so I created my own version.  Barely visible on the side is a chunk of multigrain baguette for sopping up the rich chowder.

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30 MINUTE SALMON CHOWDER (four entree sized servings)

INGREDIENTS

1/2 medium onion, diced

1 big rib celery, diced

1 TBSP Mediterranean blend oil  (I used a blend of olive, canola and grape seed oil for cooking. I find it at Costco.)

1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced in 1/2″ cubes

2-1/2 cups water

1/2 cup dry white wine

3 tsp Fish Base

1/2 cup frozen peas (or more to taste)

3/4 cup frozen corn (or more to taste)

1 lb salmon fillet, skinned and cut in 1 inch chunks

3/4 cup half and half

salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

Heat oil in a stock or soup pot.  Sweat onion and celery until onion is translucent and celery is soft.  Mix Fish Base into water.  Add water to pot.  Add potatoes.  Cover and cook until potatoes are tender.  Add wine and simmer a couple of minutes more.  Add peas and corn and bring back to a simmer.  Add salmon chunks and simmer about 5 minutes until done but still firm.  Gently stir in half and half to blend with fish broth and come up to a slow simmer.   Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a chunk of multigrain baguette and butter on the side.

 

White Chili

White Chili
I was given a cookbook, “Bean by Bean,” featuring 170 bean recipes. This one for White Chili sounded good. It has navy beans, hominy, poblano and serano chiles and a little Rotel tomatoes and chile, onion, garlic and chicken broth. I improved it with ground pork. And on the side, buttermilk corn bread with the rest of the can of Rotel. We’ll be exploring more from the bean book.

Chile Colorado

Chile Colorado

Winter has me craving chile in all forms. Last night, it was chile colorado – pork loin braised in red chile sauce with potatoes added for just enough time to cook before serving. Sides? Beans and salad and a few tostadas for crunch!