Pureed Cauliflower with Watercress

I’m batching it this week. “Batching” as in “bachelorette”, my temporary status while Russ is north of the border for a while. That means I eat stranger things than I normally eat for dinner, like pureed cauliflower and watercress. Ever since someone told me pureed cauliflower makes a good stand-in for mashed potatoes, not one of my favorites, I have been hooked on this pretender. It is easy to make, if you have a food processor.

Steam as much cauliflower as you care to eat. Left-overs are wonderful, so steam the whole head if you’d like to eat the same thing tomorrow. I know I will be looking for left-overs mañana. Cook cauliflower florets in a covered pan, with enough water so that it doesn’t cook dry, for about 8-10 minutes or until very tender. Add a handful of watercress the last three minutes of steaming. If you don’t have any watercress, but you find green appealing, some broccoli could go in the pan with the cauliflower.

When everything is fork-tender, spoon into the food processor and puree until just little pieces of green remain. Add a generous pinch of salt, and a tablespoon or two of olive oil. You can’t have too much olive oil, so don’t be afraid to pour it on. Then spoon onto a plate. As this was dinner, I topped my plate with two sunny-side-up eggs for a protein presence, and seasoned them with coarse sea salt and cracked black pepper.

I like yolks nice and runny. When they mix with the olive oil, a rich sauce forms. I’m not much of a meat eater, so eggs figure almost every day in my menu. I’m so grateful we can buy eggs from free-range hens. Yes, they do taste as good as they look.

I just discovered watercress in the herb section of the supermarket. In Spanish, it is known as berro, and known botanically as Nasturtium officinale, a member of the mustard family. I haven’t found a Mexican cook who actually uses berro in her kitchen, but I have faith that if the stores stock it, Mexican cooks must cook with it. I’ll keep asking until I can report back on how it is used in Mexican cuisine.

Thank you, Don Cuevas of My Mexican Kitchen, for alerting me in your blog that berro is watercress. I have eyed it for a while, unable to identify it in the store. The store clerks certainly didn’t know what it was or how to cook it. Now I know and I’ll never  puree cauliflower again without it. I love eating green. Buen provecho!

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Fruit Tacos for Gringos

When I’m hungry and I’m walking past a tortilleria — that’s what they call the place where corn tortillas are made in Mexico — I have to buy at least three pesos worth. Three pesos will buy eight tortillas these days, which is more than enough to make several fruit tacos and have a couple tortillas left-over for our dog Chucha. She will just about do anything to get a tortilla thrown in her direction.

A freshly cooked, steaming tortilla has so many different filling options — scrambled eggs with salsa, cheese and tomatoes, last night’s left-over coconut fried fish. Or fruit. For a quick snack, slice up any fruit, the more tropical and sweeter the better, place on a tortilla, and add any of the following: peanut butter, Walnutella, agave syrup, or dried organic coconut if you have some. You could probably think of more goodies to add. Roll it up. Yummy.

You will want to make two or three or five more, especially if a dear husband just happens to wander by to see what’s  happening in the kitchen, as mine did. He really liked the banana with homemade peanut butter and agave syrup. It is awesome to have our own home grown bananas.  I will never take them for granted.

It’s mango season and our neighbors Luis and Lupe just gave us a bag of mangoes from their ranchito outside of town. I highly recommend sliced mangoes with coconut. So does Russ. The mangoes are so sweet, but we added agave syrup anyway.

Mmm…mmm…mmm. I wish you were here. I’d make one with Walnutella for you.

I was almost laughed out of English class once by my students when I told them I made Black Bean Salsa. No self-respecting Mexican would ever use beans for salsa. Frijoles, ay caramba! I’m not going to tell them I’m putting fruit in corn tortillas. They would never understand.

Note:

My healthy ingredient choices: organic agave syrup, homegrown organic bananas, homemade peanut butter (without hydrogenated oils or sugar), organic coconut.

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Mexican potato salad with three chiles

Mexican Potato Salad with Three Chiles is a welcome variation to the standard, containing chipotle, poblano and jalapeño chiles. Chiles, when added to potato salad, give a new dimension to this familiar dish.

Use as much or little chile as you care for, but don’t omit the blistered poblano chiles. Their charred flavor is a wonderful addition to the salad. I don’t recommend omitting the chipotle chile in the dressing, either, as its smoky heat adds so much flavor. That said, the only chile you can omit if you want less heat is the sliced, red jalapeño, which we ended up using only for garnish, as it was too hot for even us chile lovers to eat, but its color made a great addition to the presentation.

Mexican Potato Salad with Three Chiles

  • 2 lbs. (about 1 kilo) new potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 large poblano chiles
  • 2 cups celery, sliced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons canned chipotle chiles with adobo sauce, finely minced
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • salt to taste, about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas), shelled and lightly toasted, for garnish
  • fresh cilantro for garnish
  • Sliced, fresh red jalapeño pepper for garnish

Cover whole potatoes with water and cook over medium heat about 20 minutes, or until they test tender when pierced with a paring knife. When cool enough to handle, quarter and peel. Cut into bit-sized pieces and toss with vinegar while still warm. Set aside.

While potatoes are cooking, blister chiles. If you need to, refer to the recipe for Chiles en Nogada à la Française for instructions on blistering and peeling poblano chiles. Wrap chiles in paper towels to steam and cool.

While chiles are cooling, mix dressing by combining minced chipotle chiles and adobo sauce with mayonnaise and salt to taste. Peel and dice poblano chiles.

Combine potatoes, poblano chiles and dressing until well mixed. Add more salt if needed. Chill for several hours, preferably overnight. To serve, garnish with red jalapeño slices, toasted pumpkin seeds and cilantro sprigs.

Mexican Potato Salad with Three Chiles

Notes:

To toast pumpkin seeds, known as pepitas in Mexico, heat a small skillet over medium heat. Toast seeds until lightly browned. They may pop out of the pan as they toast, so be ready with a pan lid if you need to contain them.

Whenever you use canned chipotle chile mince finely, as their fierce heat may be too much in a large bite.

Chipotle chiles are smoked, dried jalapeños. As much as one fifth of the Mexican jalapeño crop is used to make chipotle chiles.

In Mexico, poblano chiles are mild, but in the U.S. they can be very hot. Perhaps a different variety is grown commercially north of the border.


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