Tag Archives: chipotle

Chocolate Chipotle Cakes with Tomatillo Sauce and Cream

Chocolate Chipotle Cake with Tomatillo Sauce

There’s a chocolate company here in San Diego that keeps me quite happy — Chuao Chocolatiers. Actually, it’s my husband who keeps me happy gifting me small boxes of their very unique chocolates several times during the year:  Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, my birthday, our anniversary…  I am thankfully rarely out of Chuao chocolate.  I think biting into one of their dark nuggets of wonderfulness is what helped me understand that dessert can be sweet and have a bite — a spicy bite that is.

So when I saw this Boca Negra Chocolate Chipotle Cakes recipe a few years ago I knew I had to try it.  It reminded me of another Boca Negra I’d tried, but this one had so much more to offer.  Chocolate and chipotle?  With tomatillo sauce?  Oh my.  Sometimes, one has to suspend all thought about preconceived notions and just dive right in with the most open of minds.  It is only then that unexpectedly amazing flavors can be enjoyed.

Who knew?

And wonder of all wonders is that this happens to fit right in with this month’s Sugar High Friday event, hosted by the talented Anita of Dessert First. The deadline isn’t until Monday, the 27th and I’m so done.  Are you ready to spice up your life?

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Spicy Pea Salad with Chipotle Glazed Pork

I have been trying half-heartedly to organize my cooking, but I think it’s hopeless.  If it wasn’t for my memory, which is better than good, I’d be screwed.  Of course, maybe I am screwed and I just haven’t figured it out yet.  That would be why my fridge is packed with science experiments.  Why my freezer(s) have food in them I don’t recognize. 

You probably know the routine:  It’s the weekend.  You have some time to sit and relax and wonder about what might be on the "Chez You" dinner for the upcoming week.  You have all those cookbooks, some food magazines, eight trillion bookmarks from foodblogs at your beck and call — what could be more perfect?  So you settle in with your recipes, some stickies, and a pen.  Oh, and a beverage.  You see this, and that, and drool over all the possibilities.  But do you actually make a decision about what will be cooked past Monday?  Is there a grocery list?  Um.  Nope.  Let’s just call it best laid plans and move along.

Regardless, I have been better about using food I have, and cutting down on left overs.  Or when I have left overs, actually do something with them.  You know, something the guys can’t live without.  Something that causes them to wander to the kitchen, mindless, and wanting to sit down to eat.

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Okay, so maybe not.  But I can say this meal comes close.  And (hang on to your shorts now..) not only does it feature leftovers, but it revisits a recipe I made not too long ago: Pea Shoot Salad with Bacon & Lime.  Will wonders never cease?  I didn’t think so.  It’s those pea shoots.  I love them.  I don’t know if it’s because they’re new and different to me, or that they have a perfect crunch when I bite into a fork full.  Maybe it’s the contrast of textures between the shoots and the tangy bite of the dressing.   

Trying to recover from an excess of Cheesecake Pops?

Dig into this.

Spicy Pea Salad with Chipotle Glazed Pork for Three

3 T extra virgin olive oil

2 T fresh lime juice

1/2 tsp grated lime zest

1 T Asian fish sauce

1 T chili oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 lb. snow peas

1/4 snap peas, cut into diagonal pieces

3 c. pea shoots

1 spring onion, bulb sliced thin

3-4 lg. basil leaves, torn (about 1/4 c.)

2 T torn mint leaves

3 left-over pieces chipotle glazed pork from this recipe

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Make the dressing:
  In a small jar with a lid, combine olive oil, lime juice, zest, fish sauce, and chili oil.  Put the lid on, and shake vigorously.  Season with salt and pepper, shake some more, and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine vegetables with your hands.  The pea shoots are a bit unwieldy, so this seems to work best.  Give the dressing another shake and then drizzle on a bit, just to moisten the greens. 

Pop the pork into the microwave and heat on half power for about 1-1/2 minutes.  With microwaves, I always prefer lower "heat" for more time, and the amount of time cooked will be dependent upon your microwave.  Alternately, you could spray a skillet with Pam, and over medium high heat, quickly fry the pork.  The goal would be not to dry it out since it’s already been cooked once, so I prefer to use the microwave.

Slice a piece of pork for each plate, then arrange some of the pea salad alongside.  Drizzle dressing over and serve.

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Notes:  This pea salad is inspired by Chef Ratha Chau’s Crunchy Asian Pea Salad with Honeyed Bacon which is extremely good.  The recipe is easily adaptable — both dressing, and salad.  Protein or no protein, I love the combination of flavors in this.  When you make the dressing as written above, consider also adding some ingredients in the original recipe intended for the bacon:  2 T honey, 1 T soy sauce, 1/2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder.  It sweetens it, and adds a nice contrast to the pea shoots.

Fish Sauce:  If you turned your nose up when you saw fish sauce in the ingredients list, I get it.  It just doesn’t sound appetizing.  But it’s no different than the idea of adding anchovies to salad dressing, or for that matter Worcestershire sauce.  Does anyone really know what’s in that stuff?  Do we want to know?  What I do know is that it adds flavor to my recipes. Regardless, there are lots of varieties of fish sauce — including a Basque variety.  I haven’t tried that with this recipe, and since I’m not a fish sauce expert, I can’t say whether that would work for this recipe.  Fish sauce is a thin, salty, rich flavored mixture that actually isn’t very sauce-like at all.  It is often used as a dipping sauce as well as an ingredient in Asian cuisine.

If you can’t find pea shoots (and it wasn’t easy for me the first time…) then a salad with greens you enjoy, with sprouts that have a bit of a bite would be nice.  Radishes are good, too.  I may have snuck some spicy Asian salad greens into this, but I honestly can’t remember.  The point would be to create the combination you’ll enjoy.  Experiment and have fun.

For the protein, if you choose to add that, and you don’t want to marinate the pork, then chicken, shrimp, or pork right from the fridge briefly marinated in 2 T honey, 1 T soy sauce, and 1/2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder, then grilled or broiled would work just fine.  In fact, that would be what the original recipe suggests, except for with bacon.  And if you’re in the mood, or can afford the calories, it’s really tasty.

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Chipotle Glazed Country Pork Ribs and Beans

From time to time when reading what others write about food — whether printed on paper or published on the web — I’ve come across a person here and there who comments about what they describe as pretentious food.  It always causes me to stop and wonder what that might be, knowing that everything is relative.  Pretentious to one person may be another’s idea of food heaven, and I’m not sure that I consider anything pretentious about food.  To me, food is somewhat like art or music, its connotation different depending on the artist, the style, and even the time and place it was first enjoyed.

As much as I can say that I may not enjoy all varieties of any of the above-mentioned types of creative expressions, I do appreciate that someone created it, and that others consider it a favorite whether I like it or not.

That philosophy is most likely what allows me to enjoy eating occasionally at restaurants that serve small amounts of food perfectly displayed on large plates that cost more than I should be able to afford.  If anything bothers me, that would.  The price.  But I’ve learned over many years, that excellent food has often been prepared with finely honed skills, and superior products.  Who am I to do anything other than savor the experience when I can?

I appreciate those opportunities even more because I was raised on very simple food that was comfortingly flavorful.  We were skinny little waifs growing up, well, except for my sister, who ironically is the thin one now.  So my mother fed us food that others describe as something that would stick to our ribs.  As my dad would say, “For dinner tonight, we’re having hundreds of wonderful things.”

We quickly learned that meant beans.  Pinto beans cooked slowly in a very large pot.  Definitely anything but pretentious!  The recipe most likely came from the bag the beans came in with a touch of this and that from my mother or grandmother. The meal usually included coleslaw, rice, and biscuits if we were lucky.  It was heavenly.

Now, when I make a pot of beans, it includes my own touches, of course.  And most often, we have some sort of meat or barbeque alongside.  It’s not quite as satisfying as my mother’s, but you know how memories are.  They sort of improve with age.

Courtesy of Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen, I’ve adapted his “Chile-Glazed Country Ribs” or Costillas Adobadas recipe for you here, as well as a rendition of our family’s Pinto Beans.

 My Pinto Beans

1 lb. dried pinto beans
1 lg. onion, quartered
3 lg. cloves garlic, peeled
3 pieces thick bacon
2 green chilies, roasted, peeled and seeded

garnish of cheese & cilantro

  1. Rinse and examine beans to remove any small stones.  Pour into a large pot and cover with boiling water by about 2 inches.  Let sit for at least an hour to soften the beans.  It’s fine if they soak longer.
  2. Pour off water.  Cover beans with fresh water.  Add onion and garlic and bring to a boil before turning down to a low simmer.  Cover and cook for about 1 hour.  After that time, check the consistency of the beans by tasting one for texture.  You want the skin firm, but there shouldn’t be a crunch.
  3. Add the bacon and the green chilies, and season with salt & pepper.  Replace the lid and continue cooking over a very low heat, making sure the beans are simmering for about 30-45 minutes.
  4. Correct seasoning and serve with your choice of cheese and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.
  5. While the beans are soaking before you’ve begun to cook them…

Make the marinade for the ribs.

Chipotle Glazed Pork “Ribs”

4 lbs. pork shoulder “country ribs” (boneless slices)
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
5 chipotles in adobo
3/4 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. pepper
pinch ground cloves
two pinches ground cumin
2 T white wine vinegar
1/4 c. water
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1-1/2 T honey

  1. To make the marinade, roast the garlic in the skin by heating over medium heat in a skilled until blackened in spots.  Let sit to soften, then peel.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, place chipotles, peeled garlic, oregano, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, cumin, and vinegar.  Process, and add 1/4 water as you go, until the mixture is a smooth puree.  Strain through a strainer for a finer texture if you wish.
  3. Brush pork with marinade, reserving about half.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably as long as it takes for the beans to cook.  Bayless suggests that overnight is fine.  To the reserved sauce, add  1-1/2 T honey and mix well.  Set aside.
  4. To cook the ribs, preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  When the oven is hot, transfer the meat to a large oven proof dish, juices and all.  Pour in 1/4 c. water, cover with foil and bake for about 45 minutes.  Remove from oven, baste with the reserved sauce and put back in oven for an additional 10-15 minutes uncovered.
  5. Pour off excess juices, turn oven up to 350 degrees F, and brush with sauce.  Return to oven for an additional 10 minutes until meat is dark and glossy with the sauce.

Serve.

Recipe Notes:

  • I was going to put these on the grill and cook them very, very slowly.  Alas, the propane tank was empty, and no, nothing will get me to drive down to The Home Depot if I don’t have to.  My oven works just fine!
  • These “ribs” are so moist and tender, the sauce not too spicy, and are well worth trying.  I love this particular cut of meat.  It’s usually not expensive, and lots can be done with it.  It’s perfect for this dish.
  • With respect to the beans, they turn out a bit differently each time I make them.  Sometimes they’re more soupy, and others, they’re firm and in a cloudy thin broth.  No matter.  They’re beans.  Have fun playing around with them.  And if you’ve never made a pot of pintos, you should try.  They’re hundreds of wonderful things good for your body!