Friday, April 22, 2011

April 22

First, I know you've been waiting for recipes.  Two weeks' worth.

Molotes en Salsa Pasilla

Maestra de Cocina Yurina Peralta, el 5 abril, 2011
San Miguel de Allende

Recipe for 7 people

Molotes:  pieces of lean beef (I think it was rump steak) flattened by the butcher, and wrapped around filling like a burrito.

Pasilla is a dry chile that is not very spicy.

7 pieces of rump steak (tell butcher para una milanesa)
6 small carrots
4 small/medium potatoes
2 chayote squashes (small)
a little white flour
¼ kg pasilla chiles (dry)
1 lg clove garlic
1 medium onion
1 tbsp + salt

Dice carrots and squash finely; put in bowl.
Dice potatoes; put in another bowl.
Put the pasilla chiles in boiling water for about 20 minutes until soft.
To make each molote:
            Sprinkle salt and pepper
            Place handful of carrots and chayote in the middle
            Gently fold over, like a burrito
            Fasten with toothpicks
Dredge molotes in white flour
Fry in olive oil until both sides are brown, not too much time.  Remove from heat.


Remove stems, veins, and seeds from chiles and put in blender.
Add to blender:  sliced onion, garlic clove, and salt, and fill halfway with fresh water (the water in which the chiles boiled is too spicy).  Blend and slowly add more fresh water to top of blender.
Put some olive oil in frypan and diced potatoes and some salt.  If any carrot/chayote mixture is left, add it here. 
When potatoes are al dente, add salsa.  Stir, then pour over molotes.  Cook covered, over low heat about 20 minutes:  if high heat or cooked long time, the chiles become bitter.

And for the vegetarians among you ...

Calabaza de Queso, Ensalada Jardinera,
Guacamole, Ensalada de Nopales

Maestra de Cocina Yurina Peralta, el 12 abril, 2011
San Miguel de Allende

Recipe for 7 people

Calabaza de Queso — Stuffed Zucchini Squash

7 squashes
½ kg red tomatoes
½ onion
Salt and pepper
½ kg hard cheese:  gouda or manchego

Cut cheese into long strips.
Gently hollow out a long hole in the squash from the stem end, and push the cheese into it. (Mexican squashes are short and straight, so this is possible.)  Fill the end with some of the hollowed-out pieces.  Place on plate.
Cut and blend tomatoes, onion, salt and pepper.  If there are any squash pieces left, blend those too.
Cook tomato mixture in large frypan about 15 minutes.
Place squashes in frypan, cover with tomato mixture, and simmer over low fire about ¾ hour.  Not too much or they will fall apart.

Ensalada Jardinera — Cooked Garden Salad

2 potatoes
2 chayote squashes
¼ kg. string beans
5 carrots
1 onion
fresh garbanzo beans or other beans for protein
Any other vegetables you want

Peel potatoes and carrots
Dice all ingredients
Steam vegetables
Remove to bowl and add olive oil, salt, pepper, seasoning to taste

Otro Ensalada de Nopales (prickly pear cactus)

 Rinse nopales pieces well and soak in colander to start taking the ooze out
Boil until color changes.  Change water and boil again – 2 or 3 more times.  Strain.
Put olive oil in frypan and add half an onion, sliced thin.  When a little brown, add nopales.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Put in bowl, add cherry tomatoes cut in pieces for color.

Traditional Mexican Guacamole

Dice avocadoes and press with spoon.  Add diced cilantro leaves, lime juice salt, half an onion cut in very small pieces.  Mix and serve.

There was no cooking lesson this past week:  enough food!  Monday, the day before Cooking Lesson Tuesday, was Passover and we had a Seder here, our first Mexican Seder.  We even found a place to get matzoh:  a store-owner here is Israeli and places orders with a source in Mexico City.  All the comforts of home.  We were seven at our Seder, and because it was potluck it was easy to prepare and so companiable.  Really wonderful.

Never visit here in April or May.  My poor brother and sister-in-law, who were here earlier this month, were the beneficiaries of our ignorance about San Miguel weather at this time.  It is hot as hell, often in the 90s.  I now walk with an umbrella for shade.  It's a dry heat so if you sit in the shade it's comfortable, but any kind of exertion or being in the sun is pretty hard, especially for people like us who love the cool Pacific Northwest weather.  Our bedroom is on the second floor and the warmer temperature upstairs is noticeable.  We sleep at night with a ceiling fan and two floor fans, and it's just bearable.  Rick, thank goodness, covered the large central skylight on the roof, about 12' by 5', which has an opening in the second floor down to the first:  the extra heat through the glass was terrible.  And because of the heat we leave the doors open.  The windows have screens but the doors don't so the mosquitoes get in.  We keep getting emails from friends bemoaning the cold, wet weather but we are envious.  Bitch, bitch, bitch ...

A week ago there was the most spectacular, marvelous, superb event!  IT RAINED!  Since we arrived here in mid-January, the most it has done has gotten some clouds and even once a real rain sky.  But no rain.  After this heat you can imagine how much everyone wants rain, but the rainy season is the summer.  David and Shree left early Saturday morning and missed the drama that day.  First the clouds, then actual rain, and then even hail!  True, not very big hailstones, but if you look closely you can see them.

It drizzled all night and the next day was glorious:  fresh, clear, cool air, sunshine of course, and temperatures in the low 80s. You don't know relief until you have experienced this.  Since then, the weather has been gradually working its way back up the thermometer, but I am so grateful.

You have probably already seen the blog with Shree's pictures. Here are a few of mine to augment hers.  This is one I took of Shree dancing at the place with the marvelous guitarists.  She's in the center facing the camera.

I took a few photos of the colors of Mexico, colors that we don't usually see in North America.  These are flowers that were going to be used for decorations for a wedding.

And on another day there were dancers performing at the Jardin -- you have heard me mention entertainment in the Jardin many times.  These dancers were getting ready to go on stage, helping with each other's makeup.

In the United States we have Good Friday and Easter Sunday, but here in Mexico there is la Semana Santa -- Holy Week.  Actually, more than a week.  Last Friday, nine days before Easter Sunday, there was El Viernes de la Columna.  Seems there was a priest 250 years ago who to my mind was seriously neurotic, deep into self-mortification.  He led a procession from Atotonilco, a nearby town with the bloodiest statue of Jesus I have ever seen, to San Miguel, about 15 kilometers, carrying the bloody statue, flagellating himself while wearing a crown of thorns all the while.  Now it's a tradition.  I'm told they skip the worst of the self-flagellation but make the procession every year, starting in the middle of the night.

We have also had El Viernes de las Dolores, Friday of Sorrows.  How the Virgin could know a week ahead of time that her son was going to be killed escapes me, but no matter.  Windows are "decorated" with purple fabric or crepe paper, symbol of mourning.  All around San Miguel in churches, stores and homes, open-to-the-public altars are created to commemorate the Virgin's pain and sorrow over her son's death.  All the design elements you see below, including the oranges, are symbolic of something or other; next year I'll do this properly and let you know what it all means.  From a design perspective, it's marvelous. 

Yesterday was Good Friday, the day Christ was crucified, and there were special processions and masses everywhere.  Today there are two major processions in town.  In one there is a special statue of Jesus which has been rigged up to allow his head to turn, which I am told it does, once, as he gazes sorrowfully at a statue of his mother.  In another there are thousands of people dressed up like Roman soldiers, little girls in white with purple sashes at their waists, women in black carrying a statue of the Virgin, etc.  And tomorrow in the Jardin there are many paper-maché hanging effigies of Judas that are burst to the accompaniment of fireworks and other explosions.  Interestingly enough, I have seen nothing about the resurrection of Jesus.  Except for exploding Judases, the emphasis seems entirely on misery, a great contradiction with the Mexican talent for celebration and happiness.  Perhaps eventually I will understand it better.

But much like Christmas in the U.S., Holy Week is a big-deal holiday.  Businesses are closed Friday and some of them for more days than that.  San Miguel is filled with mostly Mexican tourists taking advantage of the holiday to have a vacation, although some, I assume, are here for religious purposes.

And I wanted to give you an update on the adult education program that I'm trying to start at the Biblioteca here in town.  A couple of weeks ago, with the friend (Luba) I'm working with I presented it to the Board of Directors at the Biblioteca.  They were very positive about the idea, but since the Biblioteca has so recently been in the red and only survived by cutting expenses and staff way back, they are leery of starting something that requires a financial outlay with no guarantee of success even if it promises a steady income stream.  So one Board member volunteered to work with us on a stripped-down pilot project.  We've written the proposal which will be presented at their next meeting later this week.  If all goes well we'll be able to offer three courses in November, and if that goes well we should be able to scale up starting in the summer semester next year.

Enjoy your spring!


1 comment:

  1. Glad your education project is moving forward despite the financial problems.

    Chag Sameach! Nice that you could have a seder in SMDA. An Israeli source is hysterical but not so surprising.