Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Holy Mole

For me, nothing says “I love you and think you are ravishingly sexy” like a great mole sauce. The heat of the chiles and the silkiness of the chocolate co-mingle in this sauce tantalize so many of the senses. Traditionally moles are made with a chicken broth. In this version, to make it vegetarian, I used a vegetable broth. This can be homemade or you can simply use a vegetable bouillon cube. A lightly browned piece of queso fresco pairs so nicely with the seductive mole that just clings passionately to your taste buds.

I was curious about the origins of the tasty sauce so I found out a little about the history of mole sauce or more specifically mole Poblano sauce. The word ‘mole’ comes from the Aztec word “molli” meaning sauce, stew or concoction. The region in the southeastern part of Mexico is known as the Land of the Seven Moles or Oaxaca. The exact origin of the mole is unclear, but the date is said to be somewhere between the years of 1680 and 1688. One story goes that the nuns of the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla de Los Angeles learned suddenly that the Archbishop was going to visit them. In the panic of having nothing to serve him, they prayed and prayed and an angel came to inspire them.  They then pulled together a sauce comprised of many dried chiles, toasted nuts, dried fruits, and cocoa powder. They ground up this concoction and served it over some cooked turkey. At least that’s on one version of the story goes. But whatever really happened, it gave birth to a well-known delicious and seductive sauce that has lasted through time.

DARK AND SEXY MOLE WITH QUESO BLANCO would make a great appetizer to a Mexican themed dinner or at a cocktail party. Since the mole takes a bit of time to make, I would recommend you make it at least a day in advance, that way the flavors in the mole get to deepen and intensify. This makes a lot of sauce and it freezes well. I would actually recommend making a double batch and then freezing the rest that you don’t use. Then it will be so easy to thaw it and use quickly for a pop-up romantic dinner for two. Oh yes, pass the mole PLEASE (wink, wink). Hmmmmm, now isn’t that a Foodgasmic thought!

Yields 1 quart of sauce

This recipe is influnced by the recipe from the blog
 http://jugalbandi.info/2007/11/when-chilli-meets-chocolate-vegetarian-mole-poblano/ which was adapted from a recipe from Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless and Deann.

2 ounces dried chiles mulatos
3/4 ounces dried chiles anchos
1/2 ounce dried chiles pasilla negros
1/2 teaspoon of the chili seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce (optional)
4-5 cups of vegetable broth
2 1/2 ounces of canned or fresh, cooked tomatoes
1 ounces bitter or bittersweet chocolate
3 black peppercorns
1 cloves
1/8 teaspoon aniseed
1/4 inch cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1/8 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/8 cup olive oil
1 ounce unskinned almonds
1 ounce raisins
1/4 cup onion, sliced
1 clove peeled and chopped garlic

1/2 corn tortilla, stale or dried out
2 tablespoons maple syrup or jaggery
12 oz. queso blanco (round fresh Mexican crumbling cheese)
small handful fresh cilantro (optional)

Cut, deseed and remove the membranes from:
2 ounces dried chiles mulatos
3/4 ounces dried chiles anchos
1/2 ounce dried chiles pasilla negros
Save 1/2 teaspoon of the chili seeds and set aside.
Turn on the exhaust fan, then in 1 tablespoon oil; fry the chilles until slightly toasted. Remove them to a large bowl, cover the chiles with boiling water, weigh with a plate to keep them submerged, soak at least 1 hour, then drain and discard the chili water.
Add 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce (this is optional)
Puree everything together with 1 cup of vegetable broth to a smooth paste.

In a spice grinder, grind up the following and set aside:
1 ounces bitter or bittersweet chocolate
3 black peppercorns
1 cloves
1/8 teaspoon aniseed
1/4 inch cinnamon stick
In a medium size skillet set over medium heat, dry toast the
reserved chilli seeds (1/2 tsp)
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1/8 teaspoon coriander seeds
one at a time, stirring each until it has lightly browned. Add the canned or fresh cooked tomatoes and the ground up spice mixture. Stir till it comes together.

Frying individually in 1/8 cup oil:
1 ounce unskinned almonds (for 3-4 minutes)
Remove, and next fry
1 ounce raisins (until puffed up)
Remove and fry together
1/4 cup onion, sliced and
1 clove peeled and chopped garlic
until well caramelized (about 8 minutes)
Remove, and next fry the 1/2 corn tortilla until brown.

Add everything to the tomato mixture and grind with as much vegetable broth as required to a smooth puree.
In the same oil, fry the chili puree for 4-5 minutes, then add the tomato mixture and fry some more until thick.
Mix in 2 1/2 cups of vegetable broth, and salt to taste, partially cover, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer gently 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Finally, season with the maple syrup or jaggery. If the sauce is thicker than heavy cream, thin it with a little broth.

In non-still sauté pan cook the 12 oz. queso blanco (round fresh Mexican crumbling cheese) on both sides until golden on the edges.
Shortly before serving cut into wedges and add to the sauce. Garnish with fresh cilantro if you want.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Better than Strawberry Shortcake!

With the warm weather coming, so comes the grilling season. I’m sure you all have your favorite delight to enjoy from the grill, but how about a sensual grilled dessert to top off those BBQ parties. The best thing about this dessert is that it just so happens to be gluten-free. But no one will even be the wiser because it tastes so darn good.

Grilled pound cake with strawberry and kiwi with ginger cream is a super fun and very impressive dessert to make. You can actually have the pound cake, fruit and whipped cream made ahead of time and just grill the pound cake just before you serve it. Yes, you can throw those sexy slices of pound cake on the grill and make magnificent food look super easy and oh so glamorous. Yes, by the end of the BBQ you’ll have your friends wowed, salivating and hopefully enjoying a Foodgasm or two.

Grilled pound cake with strawberry and kiwi with ginger cream

1 ¼ c rice flour
¾ c chestnut flour
¼ c tapioca flour
1 ½ tsp xanthan gum
1 ¼ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
¾ cup light olive oil
1 ½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon orange juice 
1 teaspoon lemon extract,
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk (dairy milk or another non-dairy milk can also be used)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine flours, xanthan gum, salt, and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.
Pour olive oil into mixing bowl with the paddle attachment and slowly mix in sugar, orange juice, and vanilla extract.
Add the eggs one at a time, making sure to stir well after each addition.
Add the coconut milk. Mix 2 minutes. Gradually add dry ingredients into wet ingredients, mixing well.
Pour batter into two well-greased loaf pans.
Bake for 50 – 55 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and remove from pan. Cool on drying rack for 30 minutes.

1 pint strawberries
4 kiwis
1 T lemon zest
½ cup sugar

Chop strawberries and kiwis (peeled) into small bite size pieces and put into a bowl. Add lemon zest and sugar and mix till fully distributed into the fruit. Cover bowl and put into the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes, till the fruit is juicy and the sugar is dissolved.

1 ½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon ginger powder
In a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer in a chilled bowl whisk the heavy cream on medium high till it starts to rise. Slowly add the sugar and ginger powder. Mix on high till soft peaks form.  Put into refrigerator till ready to use.

3-4 teaspoons chopped crystallized ginger

Fire up the grill. Slice pound cake into 1 inch slices. Make sure the grill grates are clean and well oiled (vegetable oil or any neutral oil is fine). Grill the slices on each side just till a nice grill mark appears, about 1 minute each side. The time will differ depending on the heat of your grill.

Put a slice of grilled pound cake down on the plate. Put on some of the fruit mixture and top with the ginger whipped cream. (Optional) Top it with the crystallized ginger. Serve and enjoy!