Category Archives: latin america

Rompope

Rompope

The first rompope was made in the 17th century in the Santa Clara convent of Puebla, Mexico. It was a derivation of the Spanish ponche de huevo. At the time, the Catholic Church was prominent in government and society so convents developed innovative sweet and savor dishes for visiting officials and religious dignitaries.

This boozy and creamy drink that is one of them. It is still sold by nuns outside of churches in Mexico.

6 cups whole milk
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
pinch nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
8 large egg yolks
1 ¼ cup white rum

Bring milk, cinnamon, cloves, pinch nutmeg, vanilla, and baking soda to a boil over medium-high heat in a large heavy-bottom saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks,and sugar until thick and pale.

Remove cinnamon and clove from the milk and discard.

Whisking constantly, slowly add the milk to the yolk mixture.

Return mixture to pan and cook over low heat, constantly stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

When cool, stir in rum and serve.

Serves 6 to 8

(recipe adapted from Epicurious)

Chipotle Pork Tenderloin

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Chipotle Pork Tenderloin

We made this spicy pork tenderloin in my last class of 2016 and it could very well be my favorite dish of last year. 

There are three species of cultivated chiles in ancient America, one of which was found in Mexico, wild, in cultural deposits in the Tehuacan valley dating from 7200 to 5200 BC. The use of chiles in the New World was not confined to food. Chile smoke was used as a fumigant, as a means of chemical warfare, and the Aztecs disciplined their children with it!

Christopher Columbus introduced chiles to Europe after his first trip to the Caribbean and called them peppers because he likened them to the peppercorns he was familiar with, though they are from a different family. Shortly thereafter they were cultivated around the globe and were quickly assimilated into the foods of other cultures, including those of Asia and the Middle East.

For the pork:
1 ½ pounds pork tenderloin
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed

For the chipotle sauce:
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup apple juice
6 black peppercorns
3 tablespoons chipotle puree, or more to taste (I prefer La Morena brand, available at Ralph’s)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons creme fraiche

Preheat oven to 350°F and place rack in middle of the oven.

Make the sauce by whisking all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.

Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a 12-inch ovenproof heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Brown pork on all sides, about 6 minutes total, then transfer to a plate.

Sauté garlic in skillet until it starts to caramelize. Add the chipotle sauce, stirring and scraping up brown bits. Return the pork to the skillet and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 145 to 150° F, about 20 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Thinly slice the pork and pour the sauce over it.

Serves 6

Champurrado

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Champurrado

Champurrado is a warm, thick Mexican drink made of chocolate and corn masa often served around the holidays. Though popular today, the drink has Mayan origins. It combines the major crops of maize and cacao, which were viewed as cosmic opposites. Maize, which needs full sun to grow and was the life source of Mesoamerica, represented life; cacao, which requires shade and was consumed only by the elite in their society, represented death. One was a basic necessity the other was synonymous with luxury and status. On a practical level, the caffeine in the cacao served as a stimulant and the maize provided calories and nutrition.

Think of this when you froth your champurrado or hot chocolate with a molinillo, a wooden whisk for the sole purpose of creating froth in hot chocolate (and my favorite kitchen gadget.) Click here for more fun facts on chocolate watch this fun video collaboration by Carin Krasner showing how to make it.

Happy Holidays!

1 ½ cups hot water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon whole cloves
¼ cup masa flour, masa harina brand is a good and easy to find option
3 cups milk
2 tablets chocolate, chopped
ground cinnamon for garnish (optional)

Bring the water and spices to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove the spices.

Slowly whisk in the masa flour, whisking continuously until smooth and thickened.

Add the milk and chocolate to the mixture. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until boiling. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir constantly, until thickened. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and serve with a delicious concha or the pan dulce.

Serves 4

Sweet Potato, Corn and Quinoa Salad

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Sweet Potato, Corn and Quinoa Salad

Native to the Andes, the Incas considered quinoa sacred and referred to it as the “mother of all grains.” The Spanish colonists suppressed its cultivation due to its status within indigenous religious ceremonies and forced them to grow wheat instead. Sweet potatoes have consumed in Peru since the 9th century BC.

The life force of the Americas, there is evidence that maize (corn) has been domesticated in Mexico for over 10,000 years. Green beans are also native to Mexico.

2 ½ cups cooked quinoa
2 sweet potatoes, about 1 pound
2 ears corn, husked
½ pound green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
salt and pepper
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
5 scallions, minced
¼ cup minced parsley and cilantro

Cook 1 cup dry quinoa according to package directions. Set aside.

Peel the sweet potato and dice it into ½-inch pieces. Cook it in boiling salted water to cover until tender, about 15 minutes. (Make sure you salt the water generously!) Drain and set aside.

While the potatoes are cooking, bring a separate pan of salted water to a boil and blanche the corn and green beans for about 3 minutes. Drain and add to the potatoes. Mix in the quinoa.

Whisk the oil, vinegar and herbs together in a small bowl. Add to the potato mixture and toss. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve

Serves 4 to 6