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Everything posted by esperanza

  1. Well my my! The Spanish on that label didn't need much translating at all. Your photos are great, by the way. It does look as if it's been nixtamal-ized and just needs cooking some more, but you are going to be the new expert here as soon as you figure out what this stuff really needs. I don't like the looks of the 'grit' at the narrow end of the kernel, though. Tell us what happens once you get the kernel soft. It should end up sort of like hominy from a can, only better--fresh, bigger, plumper, more 'flowered', and with a better texture and flavor. In other words, the same kind of differences you see between fresh vegetables and canned vegetables. I will go to the market this week, buy some pre-nixtamal-ization corn and take a picture so you can see what it looks like in its original state. Of course I wish you luck, and I sure admire your persistence.
  2. What an elucidating morning I've had, reading this entire thread. I'm particularly fond of Ludja's pneumonic device--in my mind's garage, there now dwells a wee charming air pump that will help me remember these pronunciations. Its cousin, the mnemonic device, contains one of the weirdest-spelt words in the English language. One nit-picky correction: there is no PIE in paella. It's pronounced pah-EH-yah, or as someone else pointed out, pah-EH-zyah. The elision between the 'pah' and the 'EH' can make it seem to the non-Spanish-speaker that the PIE exists, but in fact it does not.
  3. Ay ay ay...Fifi, when I go to Google Mexico and type in posole, what comes up at the top is Quizás quiso decir pozole..."perhaps you meant to say pozole". Following that are a bunch of listings in English for the recipes for pozole--but spelled posole. "Posole" is an English-ized version of the Spanish word and seen in Mexico only when it's misspelled. The misspelling is actually fairly common, because the 'z' in Spanish is pronounced like the 's' and it's easy for folks to do the transliteration. We see the same thing in the spelling of 'cerveza'--sometimes it's spelled 'cerbesa' on a hand-lettered sign, with the 'b' confused with the 'v' and the 's' confused with the 'z' due to the similarities in pronunciation. Just because it's on a sign, or because your Grandma wrote down her recipe as 'posole' doesn't mean that it's correct. When I type in 'pozole' on Google Mexico, I retrieve a zillion listings for recipes in Spanish for the soup--with no "Quizás" at the head of the listings. Some posters here on eGullet (and on other food forums) tend to use 'pozole' or 'posole' to mean nixtamal-ized corn ready for use in the thick soup that is actually pozole. Here in Mexico, and specifically here in Jalisco where I live (and where pozole is a regional specialty), the dried corn for nixtamal-ization is called maíz para pozole but is never referred to as simply pozole. The word pozole is reserved for the soup. Yikes, /end rant. So: when you say that you are making pozole, are you preparing to nixtamal-ize the dried corn that you bought from Rancho Gordo, or are you preparing to make the actual soup itself? I ask because nixtamal-ization is not an end in itself in Mexican food; I've never seen nixtamal-ized corn eaten as a dish in and of itself, the way folks in the States eat hominy as a starch with a meal. It's the beginning of a preparation for masa for tamales or tortillas--two different grinds, by the way--or for making pozole--a soup with several versions. And it's always done just by soaking in cal and water, draining, and then either grinding (if it's for masa) or further cooking in the soup.
  4. Do me a favor: when you get that corn, post everything it says on the label. If your Spanish is rusty, I can translate what it says for you and then we'll both know--me from your post and you from my translation. That market sounds wonderful.
  5. No, that doesn't sound right at all. I do indeed mean a skin that would loosen and slip off, the same kind of skin (only tougher) that you'd see on kernels of corn on the cob. I'm having a really hard time visualizing what it is that you bought; is it possible that your bagged corn was already nixtamal-ized? Nixtamal-ized corn is sold in bags like those you mention both here in Mexico and in the USA. When corn needs to be nixtamal-ized, it's usually sold dry--big individual kernels, either red or white, of field corn. I'm wondering if you're not going off on a wild goose chase looking for something labeled 'dent corn'--even in the States I've not seen this designation. I read the differentiation between 'sweet corn' and 'dent corn' on these boards, but in real life...nope. IMHO, your best bet is to go to a Latin market and ask for maíz para pozole. See if they've got it dry in bushel baskets or bins. The individual kernels will be hard as rocks, slightly shiny, about the size of your thumbnail, and about 1/8-1/4" thick. I'd use white for tortillas, red for pozole. With these, you can nixtamal-ize to your heart's content. I'd email you some, but it would clog up our hard drives.
  6. According to the Maseca website, vitamins and minerals are added to the masa harina--smacks of vitamins and minerals being added to the bread in the USA. A good quality molcajete is usually no more porous than a metate, but man oh man I would hate to think of grinding nixtamal into masa in a molcajete. The motions used for the two (metate vs molcajete) are completely different from one another and not, as best I can tell, interchangeable. In addition, the tejolote (the pestle) used with the molcajete is very different in shape and size from the mano (the stone grinding thing, like a stone rolling pin) that's used with the metate. The mano actually starts out square when new. The last time I bought cal, I got it at the corner store near me. They didn't sell it, but the store owner said, "Wait a minute, I'm doing a construction project in the other part of the building and I have some that I was mixing with the cement." He went next door and brought me back a little plastic bag that he'd dumped some in and gave it to me. It sure worked, and I have no idea how old it might have been. The outer covering on the kernel of dent corn does not disintegrate, it simply loosens from the soft inner kernel so that it can be rubbed off. Many people recommend removing the little 'grit' from the kernel (in the bottom part) so that the kernel will 'flower' as it's cooking. This is more about making pozole than it is about making masa, though.
  7. The outer coating won't wash off in the cal, but the cal soak loosens it. You have to rub the outer coating off after you soak the dried corn in the cal/water. An easy (well, not so easy) way to do that is to drain the soaked corn and rub it like crazy in a big clean bath towel. It's work, but not as much work as peeling each kernel individually.
  8. Try to find a good St Marcellin. When I dream of France and the cheese at farmers' markets, I dream of Voiron and fromage St Marcellin. It's been two years, almost three, since I was last in the Isère and still I dream of the cheese.
  9. Pumice stone! Yes indeed. It works miracles on the kinds of things you think will cause you to throw out the pot: burned rice, 'permanently' stuck food, etc. It also works miracles on skin, particularly on rough, dry heels. The stones cost centavitos and last forever. The two stones that I have, one in the shower and the other in the kitchen, are about 5 cm across and 2.5 cm high. I might have paid 20 cents for the two--but it might have been less. I've had them for years. Pumice stone weighs next to nothing, so have him bring at least a couple.
  10. Yes, by all means have him buy Mexican chocolate. If he can find chocolate de metate, that's what he should get. If not, Moctezuma is a good brand, as is Ibarra. Mexican chocolate is made with sugar, cinnamon, and sometimes almonds ground into the mix, so it's very different from what you have in France. Great that you thought of it! The mole that has a bit of chocolate is mole poblano, Puebla style mole. There are many, many moles that don't contain chocolate. You undoubtedly know this already... Be sure to have him bring you a Mexican lime squeezer--a metal one, you don't want one of the flimsy plastic ones. You'll wonder what in the world you did without it. The lime goes into the squeezer with the rounded side facing you, the cut side down. You squeeze the handle et voilá. There are also orange squeezers that work the same way, but I don't find them quite as satisfactory.
  11. I'd say have him not waste space on the comal (the pepper roasting pan). A clay one is too fragile to travel and a metal one isn't necessary. Any griddle will do; I char my chiles on a round cast iron griddle and it works fine. Masa harina...well, you'll find uses for it. Corn husks, yes. Dried chiles, definitely. Here's a short list of several dried varieties he should buy: guajillo ancho de arbol chipotle cascabel Also ask him to buy some cans of chiles jalapeño en escabeche. The very best brand is La Morena; almost any size can is available. And tell him to pick up a couple of cans of chiles chipotle en adobo. He could buy you some dried maíz colorado, dried red corn kernels, to be rehydrated for pozole or nixtamal-ized for grinding into masa. If he's really a glutton for punishment, ask him for a molcajete con tejolote (volcanic rock mortar and pestle). This will weigh a lot, but there's no good substitute. He'll want to find one that is very small-pored. If he brings it to you, ask me later how to cure it for use. Tell him to ask in Cuernavaca for the location of the Mercado de Abastos or any central market.
  12. This thread has confused me a little. I live in a regional hotbed of pozole. Pozole as I know it is a guisado (a kind of stewed dish), a big hearty soup. Once the dried corn that's part of the dish is ready for use in preparing the guisado (stew), it's called nixtamal. (Yes, the same nixtamal that is ground for tortilla masa or masa para tamales). Here in Jalisco, pozole is the stew that's prepared from nixtamal-ized maiz para pozole, otherwise known as maiz cacahuatzintle. The dried corn can be either red or white, although red is most commonly used in the area where I live. So when you guys are talking about canned pozole, it seems to me that you are talking about the already-prepared stew. Then I read the thread again and it seems that you are talking about nixtamal in a can. I'm not sure I've explained myself here, but maybe. Now could somebody kindly clarify the thread for me? My head is spinning. Thanks! Esperanza
  13. Greetings, gang, what an interesting thread on flan. And Ranchito, that is indeed a beautiful hen. Thanks for sharing her picture with us. I'm jumping in late here and veering off into yet another flan: Flan Napolitano. Some twenty years ago, a quite elderly and patrician friend who was born and raised in the elegant area of Guadalajara that is now Los Arcos gave me a recipe for this flan. I wish that I could reproduce it for you in her extraordinarily cultivated handwriting! She insisted that that this is the flan de los flanes and was what their cook prepared for the family's guests in those days. I would guess that 'those days' were the 1940s or perhaps a bit earlier. Has anyone tried this one? Flan Napolitano En Memoria de Francisca One can condensed milk One can evaporated milk A little whole milk to thin the mix slightly (if necessary) 5 or 6 eggs 2 Tbsp vanilla 1/2 kilo cream cheese (about 1.1 lbs) 5 Tbsp white sugar Caramelize the sugar and use it to coat the bottom of the flan pan. Blend all remaining ingredients in a blender until very smooth. Pour into la flanera and place in a baño maría. Cook for approximately 1 hour, or until a silver knife inserted in the flan comes out clean. Cool, invert on a serving plan, y listo.
  14. Ay ay ay, Ranchito--if you'd said you were going to Akumal, I could have warned you. Akumal is definitely in the Yucatan, but it is barely of the Yucatán. California friends own a condo there and have told me what a paradise it is for foreigner tourists, including lots of Europeans--and that it bears no resemblance to anything like your (or my) Mexico. They have told me about one restaurant they like, but their palates are anything but discriminating. Although I would have given you the name of the place, it would have been with a caveat. You're so right, they say that all the food in Akumal is geared to the pallid palate. Thank goodness you found people who were willing to steer you in the direction of real food. Alubias are marvelous! It particularly disturbs me that according to my friends, all the beachfront property is developed and overdeveloped for condos etc and all the Mexicans have been displaced into buildings that are nothing like their traditional homes. Did you find that to be true? Bienvenido a casa and thanks for the report. Esperanza
  15. Surely you are referring to chiles? 'Cause the penalties for packing heat in Mexico are unlovely in extremis. LOL...you took the words right out of my mouth. Esperanza
  16. My guess would be a cheese more along the lines of an asadero. It melts beautifully and develops that glorious crunchy crust. I've been known to use queso asadero for grilled cheese sandwiches, first lightly grilling a split bolillo and setting it aside, then putting a slice of cheese directly into the skillet, allowing it to become crunchy golden brown on one side, flipping it for a minute, and putting the (literally) grilled cheese onto the bolillo. These cheese tacos sound marvelous. I've never seen them around Guadalajara, but I'll keep my eyes open now. If/when I see them, I'll get the particulars for all of us.
  17. In the village of Jaltepec, Jalisco, a small organic farming operation--Asociación Comunitaria de Autosuficiencia--is having a small success. They not only grow beautiful organic vegetables and herbs but train their employees in the benefits of farming the same way at home. Their fine produce is sold at retail in several places near Guadalajara and is used as well in several restaurants, including the nearby culinary resort Xilonen, owned and operated by Rose Marie Plaschinski of Slow Food fame. Their intern program has attracted university students from several international spots. If anyone is interested, I have contact information for ACA. They operate on a shoestring (a sometimes frayed shoestring at that) and need all the support they can get. Grants and private donations pick up the financial slack that sales often can't cover.
  18. I grew up in bourbon country and loved my mother's eggnog. I can't remember what vat she made it in, but once it was made, it was stored in the vegetable crispers of the refrigerator and dolloped into the Christmas Eve punchbowl with a 2-cup measuring cup. And I do mean dolloped--this eggnog almost has to be eaten with a spoon. The recipe makes about 20-25 small punch cups of eggnog. My Mother's Eggnog 1 dozen eggs, separated 2 1/2 cups white sugar 3 cups bourbon whiskey 1 cup rum 1 quart heavy cream With an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until creamy and pale lemon color. Little by little, add the bourbon and continue beating until fluffy. Add the rum and continue beating slowly. Add the heavy cream and beat slowly until smooth. With clean beater blades, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the other mixture. Serve in punch cups with a sprinkle of fresh-ground nutmeg. _____________________________ Mother usually made 5X this recipe for the annual Christmas Eve whoopdedoo. There was usually enough left--maybe a quart or so--on Christmas morning to stir into coffee while the presents were being opened. Ah, those dear dead days. You didn't dare mention store-bought eggnog to my mother. I loved it, though, and secretly swilled it with friends every chance I got.
  19. BAKED PANELA At your favorite Latin market, buy a whole queso panela. It will weigh about a kilo (2.2 lbs). Preheat oven to 375* Fahrenheit. Pour 1 Tbsp EVOO in a square glass baking dish and spread it around. Place panela on top of EVOO. Poke holes every inch or so over and through the entire panela. I use a chopstick. Squeeze 1/2 key lime (or both halves, the recipe is very forgiving) over panela. Pour another Tbsp or so of EVOO over that. Sprinkle panela with sea salt and crumbled dried Mexican oregano. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until slightly golden brown on top. A lot of water will have come out of the panela; that's what's supposed to happen. Using two spatulas, transfer baked panela to a serving dish. Serve with crackers or crusty bread.
  20. What a lovely, lovely report from your marvelous trip. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. Zihuatenejo is a place I've not been and now I've got the bug to go. You were so smart to go before the big Christmas rush!
  21. Santo Coyote is everything you described, Rachel--and it's also everything I described. The restaurant's physical plant is enormous and just gorgeous. Every detail seduces you with visual pleasure. We were seated outside under a palapa, flowers, greenery, and cascading waterfalls all around us, charm oozing from every nook. The waitstaff, when we could pin a waiter down, was syrup-y sweet, bowing and scraping like no tomorrow. Or like no service, once all was said and done. At one point I did everything but reach out and grab a waiter's arm to get him to stop at our table so I could order a beverage to replace the mojito. The food was definitely cooked on the premises. They should have ordered out.
  22. Santo Coyote is everything you described, Rachel--and it's also everything I described. The restaurant's physical plant is enormous and just gorgeous. Every detail seduces you with visual pleasure. We were seated outside under a palapa, flowers, greenery, and cascading waterfalls all around us, charm oozing from every nook. The waitstaff, when we could pin a waiter down, was syrup-y sweet, bowing and scraping like no tomorrow. Or like no service, once all was said and done. At one point I did everything but reach out and grab a waiter's arm to get him to stop at our table so I could order a beverage to replace the mojito. The food was definitely cooked on the premises. They should have ordered out.
  23. Out of town friends have been visiting and wanted desperately to go to Santo Coyote, which had been strongly recommended to them by some of their friends in the States. Sunday a group of us went for comida. Two of our group were former San Franciscans, one of whom is a Parisian and a retired wine seller. So: three of the five of us know food and drink. None of us had been to this highly touted restaurant and we were all ready for it to live up to its billing. Well...it's wildly over the top in terms of decor, all right. However, we knew we were in rocky territory when Bob asked, as the waiter was taking drink orders, if they served mojitos. The waiter said, '¿Mojitos cubanos? Sí señor,' so we all ordered one. Then they brought us all the most godawful drink you ever saw--it looked like the water you'd drain out of a nasty slimy fish tank and didn't taste much better. None of us drank them, they were horrible. The mint, instead of being muddled, was ground up and thick in the drink, the limón was margarita mix--ugh. Rather than order the (according to the menu) sauced and gussied up food we'd been thinking we might order, we all had a premonition of bad things ahead and decided to keep it simple. Even so, it was just disgusting. One friend ate only half of her dried-out chicken breast, and Bob and I could barely cut (much less chew) our steaks. An American woman at the next table asked Bob what he was eating (a T-bone) because it looked so good and he told her not to bother, that it was terrible. On top of that, the waiters were so busy having fun with one another that they just barely had time to look after us--they never gave us butter for our bread (although later I noticed that the next table got a plateful), the bread was actually microwaved to heat it up before they served it and of course got cold and hard as a stone in two seconds, we had to beg for drinks and practically hog-tie the waiters to get them to pay attention to us, etc. Plus, they had given me strict instructions when I called for the reservation that there was only a 15-minute grace period to arrive after your reservation time or they would give our table away. Of course when we arrived on the dot of 2 PM the place was empty. It did start to fill up, with a mostly Mexican crowd, by about 2.30. The food and the service were so awful that I went and had a little Mexican style chat a solas with the manager about how lovely the restaurant is, how famous it is, how we'd had such high hopes and it was our first time there, how something must have gone dreadfully wrong with our meal and service, how I live in the neighborhood and would so like to be able to bring guests there from time to time, how my companions were food/wine professionals, etc etc, and then I laid it on him about how awful it all was. He said 'Oh, usted debe estar muy molesta,' (You must be really upset) and I told him 'Nada de molesta, solo muy desilusionada' (Not upset, just disappointed). He told me he was 'muy pero MUY apenado' (very embarrassed) and he ended up comping Bob's T-bone and mine too, which were so tough they were all but inedible. They also comped us tea and desserts all around--the desserts were quite good, actually. The manager came to the table later and gave me his card, his profound apologies (yeah yeah) and a handshake. The bill was over 900 pesos (approximately $85 USD) for the five of us, even with all the comps. It's funny, I had never wanted to go to Santo Coyote and was reluctant to try it. But hey, it might have been fantastic. It was anything but. Next time out I want to try La Parrillada Argentina, about six blocks from my house.
  24. Several months ago I had a long talk with a dry bean vendor in Pátzcuaro about just this sort of nomenclature issue. By the time he finished 'splaining it to me my eyes were crossed, so there are lots of details that I don't remember. The conversation reminded me of a child's review of a book he'd read for class: "This book told me more about penguins than I really wanted to know." The vendor showed me, for example, the difference between rosa de castillo normal and rosa de castillo injertado, as well as differences between other normally-grown beans and their hybrids. The predominate difference in all cases is size. He also told me how to tell the difference between canario and rosa de castillo (if I recall correctly the two we were comparing): differences in length and joining (or not) of the color striations on the bean! The most commonly cooked bean here in Guadalajara is the peruano. Here it's a pale yellow bean less than a centimeter long, somewhat oval in shape. There is also peruano bola , a bean the same color but rounder. Like Rancho Gordo, I prefer flor de junio, with flor de mayo a close second. The Pátzcuaro bean vendor answered some questions about frijol garrapato, which was the start of my conversation with him. I'd never seen frijol garrapato before; he told me that it was grown regionally and harvested for just a few weeks, and was very little known outside the Meseta Purépecha. I bought a kilo and have prepared them twice. They're a grayish-brown bean, about the size of a flor de mayo. They cook to a much smoother consistency than other beans and have a distinctly different flavor. I don't want to like them even better than flor de junio, since I've never seen them for sale here at home. I can imagine myself driving the four hours to Pátzcuaro to buy for-pete's-sake beans! Have we talked about the differences between regular beans and frijol nuevo? To me, buying frijol nuevo is a little like buying beaujolais nouveau--an exhilirating once-a-year experience.
  25. Yes, la famosa China Poblana! She is one of Mexico's national symbols. I named my calico cat China, for her dress of many colors.
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