Sunday, March 13, 2011

March 13

Hi, folks!

So this past Tuesday the cooking teacher, Yurina Peralta, taught me and my friend Roberta Bremson, who's here with her husband, Victor, for the month of March.  We learned how to make Sopa Azteca (Aztec soup) and Albondigas Rellenos de Huevos (meatballs stuffed with eggs).  Sopa Azteca in particular is phenomenal.  Here you go!

Sopa Azteca y Albondigas Rellenos de Huevo
Aztec Soup and Meatballs Stuffed with Egg

Maestra de Cocina Yurina Peralta, March 8, 2011
San Miguel de Allende

Recipe for 6 people

Sopa Azteca

1 chicken breast
2 large tomatoes
7 tortillas
2 large cloves garlic
epazote (Mexican herb, no English equivalent)
2 or 3 avocados
¾ to 1 lb ranchero cheese (farmer cheese), very fresh
chopped cilantro
½ onion, chopped
2 chiles Serrano, diced very small (including seeds) – spicy
½ cup crema (sour cream)
5 or 6 small limes, halved

Wash chicken breasts, put them in about 2 quarts of water over low fire
Add about a tsp salt
Dice garlic finely, add to soup.
Cute epazote leaves finely, add to soup.
Cut tomatoes in chunks, liquefy in blender, add to soup.
Cut the tortillas in small pieces with kitchen scissors.
In large frypan, heat olive oil.  Add tortilla pieces and fry until crispy, if necessary in two batches.  Remove and drain on paper towel.  
By now soup has cooked ½ to 1 hour.  Cut as much of the chicken as you want into small pieces and put into soup.
Put in small bowls and cover with plastic wrap, to serve when ready to eat:
            Ranchero cheese (squush in its bag to crumble)
            Tortilla chips
Serrano chiles
Avocados – cut just before serving or will turn brown


1 lb chopped beef
½ cup bread crumbs or ground corn flakes
½ cup milk
3 eggs
3 large red tomatoes
½ lb green tomatillos
1 or 2 chipotle chiles, fresh or canned
salt to taste

In large pot, add a little olive oil and heat. 
Peel skin off tomatillos and cut into small chunks.  Discard any brown pieces.  Blend until liquefied.  Add to pot.
Chunk the red tomatoes and blend.  Add chipotle chiles, blend.  Add this to pot.  Add salt to taste.  Simmer about ½ hour.  If water has boiled off, add a little:  texture should be thick but liquid.
Hard-boil 2 eggs.  When done, fix in cold water, peel, and cut into chunks (1/4 to 1/8 egg).
In bowl, mix together meat, 1 raw egg, milk, and bread crumbs.  Add salt to taste.
Take a few tablespoons of meat mixture, flatten in hand.  Place egg chunk in middle and wrap meat around it.  Roll in hands until round.  Drop in tomato mixture.
Simmer meatballs about half an hour.

I am loving these Tuesdays.  First is the lesson, which starts with making a list of all the ingredients, then the mercado to buy the produce and cheeses, then back to the house to make the dishes.  At about 6 PM Rick comes home, with Louis, from their Writers' Group at the Biblioteca.  This week Victor and Roberta were also here for dinner.  They will be next Tuesday as well -- and Yurina will teach us how to make tamales!

Yesterday there was a full afternoon of bluegrass, blues, and jugband music at a place out in the campo (countryside).  We were all sorry we didn't bring our bathing suits, because it had thermal pools.  Rows of chairs were set up under two big tents (tops only, not sides:  tents are essential here for shade).  250 pesos (about $22) bought you a ticket where you sat on folding chairs under the rear half of the tent; for an extra 250 pesos you could get a molded plastic chair in the front half of the tent.  We did better than all that.  Rick had the fine idea of bringing four canvas folding chairs, for us and Roberta and Victor.  We set them up at the back and heard everything just fine in much more comfort.  You may remember that Rick and I have a limit of 150 pesos for tickets to entertainment events.  Occasionally we choose to go over our limit, and the pleasure is that we rarely have to.

There was another big tent with plastic tables and chairs set up under it.  Every single table and chair had large Corona beer logos, as did the small tents over the food stalls and the molded plastic 500-peso chairs.  Corona buys extensive advertisements at every big outdoor event here.  The gate opened at 11:30 and various vendors of food were all set up.  There was chili, pulled pork, fried chicken, hamburgers, ice cream, and many other things.  Bottled water and beer cost 20 pesos (= $1.75), wine 40 pesos.  Food was from 40 to 100 pesos.  So people (mostly North Americans, for this music) strolled around, went swimming, noshed, talked with old and new friends, danced, and listened to very fine music.  It was lovely, lovely, lovely.

I've been spending a lot of time this week working on a new project.  I have proposed an adult education  program to the Biblioteca.  So far I've spoken about it to the Biblioteca's director of programs and its editor of AtenciĆ³n, the local paper, both of whom are very enthusiastic about it.  The Board meets on March 25, so before an official approval I'm just working on it unofficially.  My friend Luba, an American who's lived here for 6 or 8 years, is working on it with me.  It is great fun to work out the guidelines and to set it up!  This program would be such a good idea for San Miguel.  The town is full of accomplished people who could teach interesting courses on a wide variety of topics, and up to now, except for language and art courses, one's ability to learn something new here is pretty much limited to individual lectures.  Luba and I are calling it La Universidad de la Biblioteca!  I'll keep you informed about progress.

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