Monday, June 22, 2009

Paella Kings

All my brothers are wonderful cooks, each with his own style and focus. But it's Joe and I who have taken to the Paella. We have years of practice and a good sense of what pleases guests. The fotos shared are my most recent effort.

If you're curious, START! Google the recipe (in the beginning any flat-bottomed pan will do-after getting some chops invest in a paella pan). The best teachers are research, practice and a Spanish friend. If you lack the Spanish friend just begin cooking you'll have a Spanish friend in no time. Each Spaniard has his own recipe and will want to be part of the experience!

Pour the wine, let the Fiesta-without-Siesta begin!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cactus salad - Ensalada de Nopalitos

This is truly one of the easiest recipes when using the Nopal Cactus from the bottle. However, if not highly practiced the preparation of raw Nopal paddles into edible strips can be a prickly proposition. The process entails using great care, a sharp knife and a pair of stout gloves to remove all spines (espinas), cutting and par-boiling the ribbons. Once cooled and you've undertaken the pickling process proceed directly to the recipe below! Or do as my grandmother Tomasa did simply resort to prepared cactus from the bottle available at any Mexican market.

Cactus Salad

One cup of Nopal Cactus or more
2 tomatoes, diced
1 onion, diced
Radish, julienne
Fresh cilantro

Simple Vinaigrette

Olive oil or vegetable oil if you prefer

Red wine vinegar
Dried oregano
Salt & pepper al gusto

My little twist on the traditional is to add Julienned Jicama for additional crunch. I finish the salad with fresh lime juice for a light bright flavor! This is a perfect "All Accordin" recipe in that you just add more of any ingredient that pleases you or leave out what doesn't. Yet another twist I find expressly thrilling is the use of Prickly Pear Fruit Jelly in making the vinaigrette - infusing yet more Cactus flavor, cactus to cactus if you like. Also, it's easy to add crisp Romaine Lettuce and crumbly Queso Ranchero (Ranch Cheese) to modernize this salad so well loved in the hot, dry north of Mexico.