Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Roasted Veggies with pipian sauce, Sweet potato stuffed tortillas and Mango-lime sorbet

Well here are the long ago promised recipes for my mexican cooking night.

First up I made Mushroom and Sweet Potato Stuffed Tortillas. I had found this recipe a few months ago looking for something to different to do with sweet potatoes. I made the first time with Shitakes and that was good, but expensive. Regular mushrooms worked just fine. Last time I added in some diced red peppers. This time I added some black beans (one can, rinsed and drained). It's a nice way to make something quesadilla-like without using cheese. I keep the filling for several days and just cook up a tortilla full when the kids need a snack.

Next was Roasted Mexican Veges in Green Sesame Pipian, taken from Rick Bayless' Mexican Kitchen, my favourite mexican cooking book. The sauce is a fair bit of work, but I enjoy making it, and it tastes great on a variety of non-vegan dishes too (salmon, chicken breasts, pork...). You can serve it as a side dish with rice, or as a filling for tacos, or even bake it topped with bread crumbs and/or cheese to make a gratin. I've read some short cuts for making a pipian sauce, and will write them in below. There are a lot of alternatives in this recipe. I used chard in the sauce this time, but think I prefer spinach. This year my epazote didn't come back in my herb garden, and I missed its flavour in the sauce too. Some year I'll find hoja santo and see what difference that makes to the mix.

Roasted Mexican Veges in Green Sesame Pipian
(feeds 4-6)

1 lb (~ 11) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
2-3 serranos, stemmed (I halved this amount, but they turned out to be pretty hot)
4.5 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 cups broth or water (I used vege broth)
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup hulled sesame seeds
1 sprig epazote, or 8-10 sprigs cilantro (I used cilantro. My epazote bush had died.)
1 leaf hoja santa, or 1/2 cup chopped green tops of fennel, or 1/2 tsp freshly ground aniseed (I used fennel tops)
1 tsp salt
3 medium fresh cactus paddles (I used 2 extra chayote)
4 medium red-skin potatoes, 3/4" diced
1 large chayote, peeled, pitted, and 3/4" diced
2 medium zucchini, 3/4" diced
2 cups lamb quarters, or 3 cups purslane, or 3 cups chard in 1/2" strips, or 3 cups spinach (I used chard because I had some in my farm box. I'd recommend spinach for the faster cooking time over chard.)

Roast the tomatillos and serranos for 5 mins, 4" under a hot broiler, until they blister, darken, and soften on one side. Turn and roast the other side. Transfer along with juices into a blender. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook onion for 10 mins, stirring often, until golden. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 min. Add to blender and blend until smooth. Wipe skillet clean, add 1/2 Tbsp oil, heat on medium high. When hot enough for a drop of puree to sizzle, pour all the puree in at once and stir constantly for 5 mins until it darkens and thickens. Add the broth, boil, simmer briskly, stirring frequently, for 10 mins until thick enough to coat a spoon. Stir in cilantro. (You have made a tomatillo-serrano sauce. You can skip all of this and just buy a jar of green salsa and use 2.5 cups of it.)

In a small ungreased skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds for 5 mins, stirring often, until golden. Add to the tomatillo sauce, add epazote (or cilantro) and hoja santo (or its substitute). Partially cover and simmer for 30 mins, stirring frequently. Put back in the blender, cover loosely, and blend for 1 min or more until the sauce is smooth. You can use a mesh strainer if you want it even smoother. Return the sauce to the pan, season with salt (about 1 tsp), add more broth if needed to bring it to the consistency of a cream soup. (You can prepare the sauce up to this point and refrigerate several days ahead. You can use tahini instead of toasted sesame seeds to make things even faster.)

I'm skipping the instructions of what to do with the cactus because I always just use extra chayote. Cactus takes a long time. Heat the oven to 375F. Scatter the potatoes on a baking sheet, drizzled with 2 Tbsp of oil, sprinkle with salt and toss to coat the potatoes well. Roast for 10 mins. Sprinkle chayote with salt, add to potatoes, mix with spatula to turn potatoes and coat chayote with oil. Roast another 5 mins. Salt the zucchini, add to the mixture, and roast till everything is tender, but not overly soft, about 8-10 more mins.

Just before serving, reheat the sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the lambs quarters, or equivalent and simmer until tender for 2-5 mins (chard took longer than that). Add roasted veges to the sauce, leaving behind as much oil as possible. Once heated, scoop onto a warm serving dish, sprinkle with sesame seeds, garnish with epazote or cilantro.

Finally, I made mango-lime sorbet, which is my favourite sorbet ever, from the same Bayless book. It's very easy if you have an icecream maker. I make this every summer - it came out a little too sweet this time, but it depends a lot on the ripeness of the mangoes you use.

Mango-lime ice

2.5 lbs mangoes (4 large), peeled, coarsely chopped - about 2 heaping cups
Finely chopped zest of 1 orange
1.25 cups sugar (Sorbets are sensitive to the amount of sugar you use, and the ripeness of the fruit. The mix always tastes sweeter than when it does when it's frozen. The batch I made could have gone with a little less sugar. The only way to do it properly is to have a refractometer to measure the sugar level of the mix. I will own one one day. Well I have one in lab, but it isn't really food safe!)
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp vodka (not in original recipe, but I added because it lowers the freezing point of the mix and reduces the ice crystal size when you are using an icecream maker vs the other way to freeze it described below).

Use food processor to combine the ingredients plus 1 cup of water. Process to a smooth puree. If you want to, press through a strainer to make really smooth. (I never bother with this step.) If you have an icecream maker, pour it in and let it do its magic. If you don't, freeze in a stainless steel bowl or 9x9" pan, until the mixture is firm 2 inches in from the sides (about 2 hours). Whip with an immersion blender or process in a food processor until slushy. Repeat the freezing and beating two more times. Freeze for an hour before serving.

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