Hello Friends, I’ve always wanted to try mole with scallops since I saw saw it in a book. It paired a very modern white chocolate mole with scallops. Wanting to treat myself to a special meal today, I thought I would give it a go with my own mole.
Happy November full moon! Amy here today experimenting with roast poultry.
I wanted to make a roast chicken with mole as a seasoning, rather than as a sauce. Something exciting but still traditional enough for a roast chicken or turkey. Also, I couldn’t decide which variety of mole to use. So I separately mixed some Mano Y Metate Adobo and Mole Negro powders with olive oil and rubbed them one on each side of a chicken. I slid some under the skin and in the cavity. I sprinkled a little salt everywhere, too.
I trussed the wings and legs with dental floss.
I let it marinate uncovered in the refrigerator for 36 hours. Supposedly this helps the skin get crisp when baking.
In that time the mole dyed the skin a deep color, but it looked dull. So I moistened it with a little more olive oil and set in a 375 degrees F oven.
As it baked, I basted it a few times with its own drippings.
After it was almost to temperature (160 degrees F) I cranked the oven to 400 to crisp the skin for the last few minutes. Then I removed it from the oven, and while resting ensured the breast temperature climbed over 165F.
The skin was crisp and spicy! The meat was savory, flavorful and complex but less spicy. It was bold and special without feeling wild and crazy, or that the sides needed to work around the mole theme.
As for Mole Negro vs Adobo, I think the extra heat of the Mole Negro was my favorite, but the Adobo made the prettier crust and would be my choice for a serving a crowd.
I considered making mole sauce to spoon on the plate, but instead put some of the drippings into and on top of the mashed potatoes. Delicious!!!!!
The bones and drippings made an incredibly rich colored broth with hints of mole. It was spicier than I thought it would be. I can’t wait to make it into soups, the best part of roasting a bird. Enjoy the weather and happy cooking!
Native people in the Southwest have been growing popcorn and collecting mesquite pods for more than 4,000 years. Not sure if they ate them together, but we can!
I have a simple, delicious recipe for you today, but first an announcement. It’s Carolyn this week thinking back to 2011 when I began my first food blog shortly after my book “Cooking the Wild Southwest” was published. I wrote the blog myself for a few years under the title “Carolyn’s Southwest Kitchen,” then thought it would be more fun for me and the readers if other authors joined in. Writers have come and gone but today Tia Marta and Amy Schwemm and I are the regulars. Together we and our former colleagues have published 338 columns on wild greens, other edible wild plants, traditional chile recipes, delicious mole dishes and all manner of delicious Southwestern foods. Those columns will remain in the blogosphere and you can still search them. Recently, we’ve sent you a post every ten days, but knowing that everyone is so busy, we’re dropping back to one post a month. You will hear from each of us four times during the year in regular rotation.
Sprinkling mesquite meal on popped corn is so simple and so delicious I can’t believe I never thought of it before. It came about because I was giving a cooking demonstration to a small group and I knew they would get hungry as they watched me cook their dinner. The demo was in conjunction with my new book “A Desert Feast.” It is my answer to why Tucson was named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. The answer is complex but one reason is that we are still eating some of the same foods people here have eaten for thousands of years. Throughout the dinner, I wanted to include a range of foods that had been eaten in the over the last 4,000 years in Southern Arizona and popcorn seemed like a good idea for a snack to keep my audience’s hunger at bay for the 45 minutes I’d need to put their complete meal together. If I could season it with mesquite meal, that would help me tick off one of the earliest foods. It was a hit! You’ll love it too.
Sprinkle mesquite meal on plain or buttered popcorn for a naturally sweet treat.
6 cups popped corn
2-4 tablespoons melted butter (optional)
6 tablespoons fine mesquite meal
Put the popped corn in a bowl large enough to allow mixing. Drizzle on the melted butter if using. Sprinkle on the mesquite meal, tossing until well combined.
Want more recipes for mesquite and delicious wild foods of the desert? Find them in my book “Cooking the Wild Southwest: Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants.” And if you want to know why Tucson was named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, I tell the whole 4,000-year story in my newest book “A Desert Feast: Celebrating Tucson’s Culinary History.” Buy them from your local bookstore or order on-line.
Amy here, sharing a classic dish that I’ve made several times recently. Years ago my young niece showed me how she made nachos. I didn’t grow up with them, and had never before gotten into making or eating nachos. Ava’s authoritative recipe in the microwave was such a delight that afternoon. So even if I make my own version now, I always think of her when I do.
I like to start with corn tortillas. Thin ones are best, and if they’re dried out a little, even better.
I fry them in a shallow layer of neutral oil until crispy and brown.
Then sprinkle them generously with salt right after coming out of the oil.
Freshly grated cheese is a must. I like jack, but of course anything that melts is good!
My niece used leftover beans and so did I. These are mayocoba beans cooked with just water, garlic and salt.
Since it is chile season, I roasted some from the Tucson CSA over the gas stove inside. After evenly charring, I put them in a lidded dry, cold saucepan, allowing them to steam in their own heat. Then the skins slip off easily.
Tucson CSA has had a good heirloom tomato year, so they go in whatever dish I’m making on the day they are ripe. And I sliced some white onion thinly.
I put the tortillas, cheese and beans to heat in the oven.
A thin layer of tortillas makes for more edges that can get crisp, but a full sheet pan with extra sauce and cheese is good, too! After baking, I top with the pork in Pipian Picante, tomato, onion and green chile. I recommend eating immediately like I did with my niece, enjoying the outdoors.
Hello Friends, Amy here with summer sweet corn and tomatoes! I canned some tomatoes and froze some corn kernels for later.
I started with my favorite cornbread recipe. When I make Mano Y Metate mole powders I use masa harina, made from corn that has been treated with lime (as in limestone, not the citrus) and coarsely ground to make tamales. It is too coarsely ground to make mole but it is the only one I can get non-GMO in small quantities. I only need a couple 50 pound bags a year, not a pallet of 50 pound bags at once! So I sift it for the mole powders, leaving me with surplus of very coarse meal that certainly has a higher portion of the germ and bran. That makes it more nutritious but not at all starchy. For cornbread, I use three fourths cup of this coarse meal and one quarter cup wheat flour, even though the original recipe does not call for any wheat.
In lieu of yogurt or buttermilk, I used one and a half cups fresh milk with a one and a half tablespoons cider vinegar. Also a tablespoon mesquite honey from Sleeping Frog Farm, an egg, a quarter teaspoon each of salt and baking soda.
I like crust. So I start by preheating an eight inch skillet (or any baking pan, it does not have to be cast iron to be improved by preheating) at 425 degrees. When it is to temperature, I let 2 tablespoons oil or lard melt in the pan. Butter works too but it does get very toasty. My friend rendered this lard from a local pig.
For the best crust, I put the oiled pan back in the very hot oven. When the oil is to temperature, I pour the batter in the pan and it immediately bubbles and puffs!
Tucson CSA has not shared any green chile, yet, but hopefully it will very soon. Inspired by Mole Dulce dry sprinkled on brownies, I sprinkled the top of the cornbread with Mole Verde powder.
Also, fresh tomato slices, for color. It’s been a good year for tomatoes at Crooked Sky Farms, lots of heirlooms and Romas.
After 20 something minutes in the oven, it was golden. No need for a toothpick test here! Spicy crusty exterior and creamy sweet corn studded interior.
Breakfast outside on a steamy desert morning, watching the plants in the yard grow explosively with the summer rains.
Hello friends, happy summer. Amy here, sharing a dream come true: goat sitting! Friends that were home all last year became new goat parents during quarantine, but are finally traveling and busy again. Ten years ago I co-milked a huge mama goat in my neighborhood with three other families. Eventually the goats moved to the grassland southeast of Tucson but sharing the responsibilities of milking twice a day suits me well.
Lyric is a miniature milk goat that lives a mile from my house. Her baby Skunky was born in February completely black and white, like a spotted skunk. Twice a day they go on guided foraging excursions in their urban neighborhood. Lyric is easy going, but Skunky gets stir crazy without her walks.
While Lyric is the easiest going goat imaginable, it still takes all my concentration and both hands to milk. I’ll have more photos someday. Lyric provides two cups twice a day, so I’m freezing it, saving up to make cheese. But a batch of ice cream only takes a pint!
I didn’t want to buy cream and I didn’t want rock hard ice milk. Wondering if I could add enough butter to make it work, I found this recipe and adapted it to make butter pecan. I started with just over 2 cups milk, a scant 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder (ground vanilla pods) and 1/8 teaspoon salt over low heat.
I separated 4 room temperature egg yolks and used the whites for another meal.
After mixing a small amount of the hot milk to the yolks, I added the mix to the pot. I stirred while heating slowly until the mixture was barely thickened. Then I strained the thin custard to remove any traces of egg white and cooled it somewhat in the refrigerator.
Meanwhile, I made the flavor. A friend from Bisbee gave me pecans from her tree.
I browned 5 tablespoons unsalted butter! (Remember, this is making it like ice CREAM instead of ice MILK.) Then I added over half a cup of broken pecans to toast in the butter. Yes, it smelled as good as it looks.
I added the slightly cooled custard to the browned liquid butter.
and poured the whole into a little electric ice cream maker. Some butter did solidify into tiny bits, which remained in the finished product. But the nutty butter pieces combined with the nut pieces and it is actually a DELICIOUS result. Rich and flavorful.
Soon it firmed up to soft serve. After a time in the freezer, it made perfectly delicious, not too hard. ice cream.
With the local Baja Arizona heirloom wheat harvest of White Sonora completed at Mission Garden at the living history San Ysidro Fiesta (May 22, 2021), and with the organic White Sonora wheat harvest still happening at BKW Farms in Marana–AND with the mesquite pods beginning to ripen all over the desert– now is a great time to celebrate both harvests in one delightful coffee cake!
Tia Marta here with a fun recipe that heralds the upcoming Mesquite Milling event Saturday, June 26, 2021, at Mission Garden. Mark your calendar for this special morning to bring your fresh-picked, dry, cleaned pods to be milled by one of possibly three hammer-millers into wonderful flour to freeze and use all year long. Check www.missiongarden.org for details and instructions for harvesting. (While you are in your calendar be sure to note mid-May of 2022 for the next year’s San Ysidro Fiesta–not to miss.)
Head over to Mission Garden or order online from NativeSeedsSEARCH to purchase whole white Sonora wheat-berries. (They, of course, are not really berries–they are kernels of the ancient low-gluten wheat that Padre Kino and other early missionaries brought to the Southwest, conserved by NativeSeedsSEARCH.)
To sprout wheat-berries, soak them overnight, then sprout for 2 more days by running fresh water over them and draining them about 3 times per day until tiny roots or white grass blades begin to emerge. Don’t wait–This white-tendril stage is the sweetest you will ever taste!! (Note–Plan your baking day ahead. If the emerging tendrils begin to turn green they will toughen rapidly. You can slow the sprouting process somewhat by refrigeration.)
BRUNCH CAKE RECIPE:
Blender 1/2-2/3 cup of sprouted wheat-berries with 3/4 cup milk (or buttermilk, or sour milk).
In a mixing bowl, cream together 1/4-1/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup butter. Beat in 1 egg, then mix in the blendered sprouted wheat-berries and milk.
In a separate bowl, sift together 1 cup flour (I use white Sonora wheat flour but any flour will work), 1/4 tsp. sea salt, 2 tsp. baking powder, and 1/3 cup mesquite meal or flour.
(I’m using up my last year’s mesquite flour anticipating next month’s harvest and the milling event…)
Preheat oven to 375F.
Optional add-ons: Add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 tsp of grated lemon, tangerine, or other citrus rind.
Beat dry ingredients into liquid ingredient mixture to make batter….
Pour batter into a 9″ baking pan. Top with sliced fruit or your favorite desert delicacies (hackberries, chia, barrel cactus fruit slices and/or barrel cactus seeds….). Sliced bananas, apples, kiwi will all work fine.
Bake at 375F for 25 minutes or until cake tests done….
How delectable can it get…. when you savor ancient wheat sprouted to its most vibrant, life-giving potential, then you add the sweetness of nutritous mesquite flour from the desert’s back-40, celebrating it all in a fun coffee-cake? Tia Marta here hoping you can share this with favorite friends outside on a shady patio together!
Hello friends, Amy here making something different out of the same characters I always eat, again and again and again. Eating more locally and seasonally encourages creativity! Nopalitos, young prickly pear cactus pads of many species, are DELICIOUS but like okra need special care to not let them overpower the texture of a meal. Start by harvesting a tender young pad that still has its true leaves, the little cones at the top of the pads seen in the photo below. As the pad matures, the leaves yellow, fall, and a woody internal structure develops. This might be the last I harvest before a new flush of pads comes with summer rains.
Any large spines or tiny glochids can be quickly singed to ash over an open flame, holding the pad with tongs.
Singed nopalitos can be safely touched and if they turn from bright green to pale olive, they are cooked and ready to be eaten.
To showcase this little harvest I made pulao, an extremely flexible rice pilaf from India. I started with a traditional recipe changing to local veggies and nuts. Whole cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, star anise, Indian bay, fennel and black cumin can be toasted in oil or ghee. I wish I had whole nutmeg or mace to add at the beginning, because I forgot to add them as ground spices later.
Then onion, garlic, ginger and a whole green chile (a serrano frozen from last autumn’s harvest) went in to fry. Followed by Tucson CSA carrots.
Then Tucson CSA zucchini, soaked basmati rice and mint from the garden.
After several years without, I now have a great spearmint patch again. A smart gardener gives plant starts away to friends and family for backups and last year I was a grateful recipient. Anybody need some?
After water, salt and 20 minutes covered over low heat, it was ready.
After fluffing, I toasted some local pecans and sprinkled them as well as the nopalitos on top. A totally new taste for my usual veggie friends. If you like this, you make like Tia Marta’s cholla bud jambalaya.
First, I’d like to welcome all of our 401 followers. The three of us-Tia Marta, Amy and, me, Carolyn Niethammer–realize that we write about quirky subjects and we will never attract the numbers of readers as do bloggers who concentrate on such things as chocolate and whipped cream. Here you’ll most likely find foods that hide their goodness beneath spines, spices that tingle on the tongue, plants that have fed humans for thousands of years. We love having you as a community of cooks who love trying wild foods and getting creative with Southwest flavors. We come to you every 10 days with something seasonal and delicious.
It’s getting very warm in our Southwestern desert city and garden plants that don’t like hot weather are giving up. This includes cilantro that has been such a lovely addition to so many foods all winter. But it doesn’t go away entirely. First it flowers, then it leaves tiny balls that when dried we call coriander. Some people call both the fresh herb and the dried coriander, but each of them has a distinct flavor so giving them each their own name seems fair.
Fresh cilantro likes cooler weather in the garden.
After the cilantro leaves dry up, the flowers produce these tiny balls that we call coriander.
Coriander combines beautifully with other Southwestern herbs, giving them a twang, a tiny bit of sweetness, and a depth of flavor that works to meld the other flavors. It is widely used in East Indian dishes. Below is a beginning recipe, but you should feel free to customize it to your own taste. Then you can use it as a rub for pork or chicken, you can add it to sauces that need a little something, use it while stir-frying veggies, and even just use it as a dipping spice for pita bread or fat flour tortillas.
Southwestern Spice Rub
Go very light on the salt or it can overwhelm the other flavors. Taste the blend without the salt first; you may decide you don’t need it.
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon chile powder of choice
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed (optional)
pinch of salt (optional)
Combine all herbs and flavorings. Taste and adjust. Use as a rub or a dipping spice.
Put a small puddle of good olive oil on a plate, dip your pita in the oil and then your coriander spice mix. Delicious!
Hello! Amy here playing with the cholla buds I just harvested! NOW is the time to harvest and our own Tia Marta is teaching a workshop THURSDAY, April 22 on Earth Day! Register here.
The unopened flower buds of the cholla cactus are a real favorite, and one annual harvest I collect every year no matter how busy life gets. It is a very narrow harvesting window, usually in April, depending on the year and elevation. Simply bush off the spines with a bouquet of creosote or bursage, pluck with tongs and boil in water for 5 minutes. They taste tart with a slightest hint of internal texture like nopalitos. But that doesn’t convey how delicious they are.
Plentiful in the desert, harvesting does not hinder its reproduction, which is usually from “cuttings”. But this is the first year my backyard had enough to harvest! Grown with no irrigation at all, it is totally sustainable, low maintenance agriculture. Plus beautiful in the yard!
There are countless ways to enjoy cholla buds, but yesterday I snuck them in Chinese curry pastries, a treat I remember from childhood, from the tiny Chinese bakery that was near my house.
I started with ground beef, onion and garlic. Of course, mixed veggies could be used instead.
Then I added beautiful Tucson CSA carrots and Chinese curry powder. I’m sure any curry powder would work perfectly.
I had some young foothills palo verde seeds from last spring in the freezer. I blanched the harvest and stashed for another day. Learn more about them here.
The delicious, sweet immature seeds taste like young green peas…and also take as much work to shell as green peas.
The filling complete, I folded a spoonful into premade puff pastry.
Gilding with beaten egg is essential to make them look like how I remember them at Lai Wah bakery.
After a few minutes in the oven, it smelled unbelievable.
I can hardly wait to make them for my sister and brother.