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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Grilled Chiles Rellenos with Chipotle Mango-Peach Mojo Shrimp Skewers

Grilled Chiles Rellenos with Chipotle Mango-Peach Mojo Shrimp

Grilled Chiles Rellenos with Chipotle Mango-Peach Mojo Shrimp
by Victoria Challancin

The Spanish term chile relleno often conjures up an image of a fat, battered-fried pre-roasted green poblano chile stuffed (mainly) with cheese and bathed in a tomato broth called caldillo de jitomate, or light tomato sauce.  Rightly so, as this is a popular and well-known dish beloved throughout Mexico.  But of course, chile relleno simply means "stuffed chile," no matter the type of chile itself (poblano, jalapeño, pasilla, ancho--fresh or dried, battered or not) stuffed with something (often cheese, but also chicken, meat, and seafood).  Obviously, given the number of varieties of chiles in Mexico, the options of combinations seem endless.

This version that I taught in a cooking class for Mexican cooks last week, is a lovely, modern twist on a classic recipe which I found in a favorite blog: Half Baked Harvest.  You begin by fire-roasting fresh poblano chiles over an open flame.  The chiles are sweated, peeled, and deseeded.  These are then stuffed with a good Mexican melting cheese and served with mojo-marinated shrimp over a lovely salad of grilled corn, tomatoes, mango, peach, cilantro, and more.

What is a Mojo, you ask?
Throughout the Caribbean and South American various marinades or salsas, called mojos are used to flavor chicken, meat, and seafood. Often these are made with some sort of citrus and are redolent with fresh herbs and garlic.  These can also be used to flavor vegetables, such as the starchy cassava tuber.  Glorious with seafood, these mojos also shine with meat, such as the bitter orange-garlic-olive oil mojo used to marinate the famous Cuban pork--a dish I grew up enjoying and loving in the South Florida of my youth.  These marinades, or salsas, give a tropical pop to anything they touch, so don't be afraid to separate this sauce from the recipe and try it in other dishes!

More Information of Mexican Cheeses:
If you would like more in-depth information on Mexican cheeses and how to use them, see my post on United Mexican Cheeses here.

The Mexican cooks were surprised and delighted with this version of a chile relleno.  And why not?  It had a fresh tropical tang to it, like a sprightly dance of fruit, rum, and sun on the tongue.  And the bit of left-over salad was perhaps even better the next day!

Cook's Notes:  Because I live in Mexico where so many chiles are available, I used the poblano chile called for in the recipe.  However, if you don't have fresh poblano chiles, you could easily substitute anaheim chiles, any large dried chile such as ancho, which is actually a dried poblano.  Other fresh or dried chiles could be used, even the zero-heat bell pepper would work fine.  The sprightly mojo could be used on tofu, chicken or pork, or any seafood, including scallops, squid, octopus, and fish.  As for cheeses, you simply need a not overly-strong melting cheese (cheddar or Monterey Jack) mixed with a bit of feta, if you don't have good Mexican cheeses available to you.  No peaches?  No problem.
Nectarines, plums, and even pears would mix in well here.  Use your imagination.  I can't imagine how you could go wrong--this is a wonderful recipe with lots of possibilities.

The Recipe:  Grilled Chiles Rellenos with Chipotle Mango-Peach (or Nectarine) Mojo Shrimp Skewers
(Recipe from Half Baked Harvest)
Serves 4

For the Shrimp:
1 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup mango juice
1/4 cup coconut rum (optional)
1-2 chipotle chile peppers in adobo (I used 2)
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
pinch of salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds raw shrimp, peeled + deveined

For the Peppers + Salad:
6 poblano peppers
4 ears corn, husked
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
2 tablespoon lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced or grated
1 peach, chopped (nectarine would work as well)
1/2 cup mango, chopped
1 jalapeño chile, seeded + chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
8 ounces (or more) Mexican melting cheese  (Asadero, Manchego, Oaxacan--I used Asadero)
4 ounces cotija cheese, plus more for serving (you can substitute feta)

To make the shrimp, combine in a blender 1 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup lime juice, 1/4 cup mango juice, 1/4 cup coconut rum, chipotle chiles, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Add the shrimp to a gallon size ziplock bag and pour the marinade over the shrimp. Seal the bag and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile start the peppers and salad. Preheat the grill to medium high heat. Rub the poblano peppers and corn with a little olive oil. Place them on the grill. Grill the peppers and corn, covered, over medium heat about 10 minutes or until peppers are charred all over and the corn is lightly browned, turning the corn and peppers once or twice during cooking. Remove the peppers and corn from the grill and allow to cool.
Once the corn is cool, cut the kernels away from the cob and add to a large bowl. To the bowl add the tomatoes, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 clove garlic, peach and mango. Season with salt and pepper and toss well.

--> Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a medium skillet and set over medium heat. Add the the onion and jalapeño. Sauté until soft and almost caramelized, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat. 

Parting Shot:  Hand-Blown Mexican Glass Heart Decoration

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.

Flavors of the Sun Cooking School
San Miguel de Allende, México

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Bloody Mary Soup Sippers served in one of my Hand of Fatima Moroccan tea glasses which were actually bought with tequila in mind

Bloody Mary Soup Sippers with Grilled Cheese Skewers
by Victoria Challancin

If I do a bit of self examination, I would have to admit that when it comes to food, I am not often dazzled by "cuteness."  With animals and children, yes.  But "cute" food doesn't usually grab me.  But when I saw these soup sippers on, I thought, "How cute!"  And I didn't even cringe.  And when I read these were the stuff brunch dreams are made of...well, I was sold.  I knew I would teach my Mexican cooking students how to prepare them. Alongside any one of dozens of fabulous Mexican breakfast offerings, these would shine. And advertising them as a drink, an appetizer, or even an entree just sealed the deal.

 Bloody Mary Soup Sippers with Grilled Cheese Skewers

These were seriously good and yes, the skewers elicited remarks like, "How cute!"  And they were.  The only thing I would change is that I would use real bacon and not turkey bacon.  What was I thinking?  I don't even like turkey bacon  (see my note below for other suggestions).

A plate of skewers ready to adorn the soups

Recipe:  Bloody Mary Soup Sippers with Grilled 
                                    Cheese Skewers
(Recipe adapted slightly from
Serves 6 to 8 (more if using small serving vessels)

Is it a drink, an appetizer or even an entree? Perhaps it’s all three in one!

2 cans of crushed tomatoes
2 1/2 cups of chicken broth
1 1/2 cup tomato juice
1 onion
2 celery stalks, diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 tablespoons Tabasco
3 tablespoons honey mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon creamy horseradish
½ lime
½ lemon
Celery salt to taste 
Pepper to taste
Vodka (optional--just kidding)

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a nonstick pan

Dice celery, onion and garlic, and sauté in heated pan until tender.
Pour the 2 cans of crushed tomato into the blender.
Transfer the sautéed onion, celery and garlic from the pan into the blender.

Add the Worcestershire, Tabasco, creamy horseradish, honey mustard and celery salt/pepper into the blender.

Mix the blender for about 1-2 minutes until everything is smooth. There shouldn’t be any chunks.

Place in a large pot and add your tomato juice and chicken broth.  Add the contents from the blender into the pot.  Add a squeeze of lemon and lime.

Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.  Check and adjust seasoning.
      Once your soup is done, add your vodka and stir.

Serve hot or cold.

Grilled cheese sandwiches (I made 2)
1 ½-inch round cookie cutter
Turkey bacon or regular bacon  (Seriously...use the real thing)
Green pitted olives
Swizzle sticks or wooden skewers
1 lime, cut in half
Chile powder such as Tajin brand
Celery sticks, cut in half (optional)

Make two of your favorite grilled cheese sandwiches.

Fry some bacon cut into squares.  Drain on paper towels..

Use a cookie cutter on the grilled cheese to make mini circular grilled cheeses. Start at the edge of the crust and work your way around to get as many full circles as you can.

Start loading up your skewer with olives, grilled cheese rounds, pepperoncinis, bacon and cornichons.

Run a lime across the rim of the glass so that the chili powder will stick.
Dip the rim of the glass in the chili powder to coat. Tap it to get rid of any excess powder.

Use a ladle to add soup to each of the bowls or glasses. Only fill it up ¾ to allow yourself enough space to add your skewer.

Place the skewer on top of the bowl and arrange the skewer ingredients so that it sits nicely on the glass.

Add a ½ stalk of celery, if you like.

Another note:  I might have added a bit more spicing when I made these, because I just can't help myself.

In the background are guacamole-filled spring rolls with a cilantro dipping sauce.  Yes.

Note:  I love everything about these except that I used turkey bacon as the recipe suggested.  There really is no excuse for turkey bacon.  If you are going to eat bacon, just do it.  The real thing.  Though a bit of folded prosciutto or jamon serrano wouldn't go amiss.

Parting Shot:  A Moroccan Resin Necklace with an Old Berber Enamel Centerpiece
Yes, I am gearing up for another trip to Morocco in April.  This trip is full, but I still have openings for my October trip.  Just in case...

Photo by my son, Zachary Popovsky

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.

Flavors of the Sun Cooking School
San Miguel de Allende, México