Thursday, February 24, 2011

Quick post

Hello, fans!

I'm not going to get into the fix I got into last time, where there was so much to write -- and so much for you to read -- that I run the risk of exhausting my audience!

First, I must give you this week's recipe from my cooking lesson with Yurina:  chiles rellenos -- stuffed peppers.


Chiles Rellenos de Queso, con Spaghetti
Stuffed Peppers with Cheese

Maestra de Cocina Yurina Peralta, February 22, 2011
San Miguel de Allende

Recipe for 8 people

This recipe is not difficult but it is slow and labor-intensive.

8 chiles poblanos (sweet green bell peppers) – choose large smooth ones, not indented
5 eggs
1 cup white flour
1 lb tomatoes
1 to 1.5 lbs hard cheese (gouda, gruyere, anything), 2 kinds if you like
1 lg clove garlic
½ onion
olive oil

On a gas fire, char the chiles directly on the burners, turning slowly until evenly charred all over.  (If stove is electric, blanch them briefly in boiling water.)  As soon as each chile is done, place it in a plastic bag big enough for them all and close tightly to keep in the heat and humidity.  This is a slow process.

For the tomato sauce

Peel the tomatoes and cut in chunks.
Cut up the garlic and onion.
Blend tomato, onion and garlic in blender until liquefied.
Add 2 tsp salt or to taste, blend again.
Put a little olive oil in saucepan, heat, and add tomato mixture.  Simmer on low heat about 15 minutes.

To prepare chiles

While tomatoes are simmering, peel chiles, very gently, by scraping off the skin with a small knife, being sure to leave the stem on.  When peeled, make a cut on one side only from top to bottom.  Cut out seeds on the inside, leaving stem intact as a handle to maneuver it with.  Gently slice out veins from the inside.  Rinse in water then place in bowl.

Separate eggs, with whites in mixing bowl and yolks in small bowl.  Beat egg whites until very frothy:  takes a while.  Then slowly add yolks and beat some more.

In large frypan place about half a cup of olive oil.

On a plate put about a cup of flour.

Cut cheese in eight roughly rectangular chunks, about 2 oz or so each.  Place a chunk (or two pieces of different cheeses) gently in each chile; close with a toothpick.

Very gently roll chile in flour, then dip in egg to cover.  Because it will drip, carry the chile over the egg bowl to the frypan and gently place it in the hot oil. 

Cook two chiles at a time over low-to-medium heat, turning gently to brown all over.  If there’s a side that’s too narrow to stand on its own, splash some of the hot oil onto the thin side with a flat-edged spatula so that the chile is brown all over.  When completely brown, remove to platter.  Add more oil to the frypan before cooking the next two chiles.  This too is a slow process.

When done, reheat if necessary in slow oven or microwave, and serve with heated tomato sauce dribbled on top.


Break in half and cook until al dente.  Strain.  In same pot, place spaghetti, butter, salt, and pepper.  Reheat.

This was totally delicious.  The lesson is on Tuesdays because our friend Louis comes to dinner, and this time we also invited Marcela, the woman from my chorus who gave me the chocolate cake for Valentine's Day -- a big deal here in Mexico, like Halloween is in some parts of the US -- and her 7-year-old daughter, Diana.  Between the entertainment provided by Mela the Dog and Diana the Kid, we had a lot to laugh at, even in Spanish.  

The pervasive Catholicism is starting to get to me a little.  Tuesday morning before Yurina arrived, Emma, our housekeeper -- ama de casa in Spanish, lover of the house -- sat and talked with me, which I normally love but for some reason she felt the need to tell me all about the joys of God, and about how God has blessed her, and on and on.  And then sure enough, Marcela Tuesday evening brought me a pair of delicate little earrings:  tiny paintings of La Virgen.  I will give them to Emma tomorrow, and think that maybe the two of them can skip the middlewoman next time.  I am also thinking that perhaps it is time to start telling friends, particular Mexican friends, that we are Jewish -- not that we have hidden it but it hasn't seemed relevant before.  It's starting to, in self-defense.

Tonight was a wonderful evening!  A couple of weeks ago we met an elderly man, Milt, in the Jardin and invited him to our housewarming party.  You may remember that I described him in the last post.  He invited us tonight to meet his visiting family, his daughter, son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter, first by showing them our house over drinks and snacks, and then out to a restaurant.  We went to Bugumbilla, the restaurant that specializes in traditional Mexican cooking with the superb chiles en nogada that we went to in September in honor of the Mexican Bicentennial.  Most of Milt's family ordered that and loved it, and loved the beautiful courtyard.  Then, a special treat for me!  Milt had met David Leonardo (the friend of a friend, the way one does in San Miguel), the artist who did the stunning mural in the Sala Quetzal at the Biblioteca that I raved about when I first got here last summer.  You can see two photos of his mural, which covers four sides of the room, in the August 5 blog:  David invited Milt to an opening of his art tonight, and Milt brought us.

David was born in Mexico City, lives here in San Miguel, is young, early 40s, and as bubbly as his art.  I apologize for the photo; believe it or not, this is the best of the half-dozen I took.  So if any of you know of a young woman who would like to start a family with this terrific and talented guy -- he told me so himself! -- here's your chance.

Tomorrow Rick and I go to Mexico City, where neither of us has been before. We will meet Seattle friends for the weekend and bring them back to the house they have rented for a month in San Miguel.  A city of 27 million is incomprehensible in the best of circumstances, but compared to a town of about 100,000 it's more so.  Our friend Gerardo told us about a restaurant specializing in pre-colonial Indian cuisine that serves gusanos -- worms, the kind in tequila bottles! -- and you can bet I am eager to try them!  Our friends aren't nearly as adventurous, so I hope we get to go.

Buenas noches, mis amigos -- more next week.


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