Thursday, April 15, 2010

Latin Inspired Food Night

Two nights ago, I went to my friend's house for a delicious south of the border inspired dinner. Her dining table turned into a mini taco bar where you can build your own taco/burrito with her amazing beef, chicken, guacamole, cheese and all the toppings. I felt like this was the opportunity for me to make salsa from my Food Network magazine :). I decided to try the roasted tomatillo salsa recipe (aka Chile Verde). It's not spicy - it's tangy. I didn't really know what to expect when I bought the tomatillos. I've always seen them but never touched it or held it. It has this husk on the outside that is a bit sticky but sheds off just easily to expose a beautifully plump green tomato. I was discovering a new vegetable! Here's the very easy to do recipe from Food Network:

10 tomatillos
1/2 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 chipotle in adobo sauce (I didn't use this)

- Peel the tomatillos and wash. I plucked the stem from the top and threw it away.
- Slice the onion and leave the garlic still in its shell.
- Lay out the tomatillos, onion and garlic on a baking sheet and broil them in the oven for about 15 minutes.
- Remove all the items from your oven. Peel the garlic and chop it into tiny pieces.
- Put the garlic, tomatillos, onion, 1 chipotle in adobo sauce (I didn't use this), cilantro as you please and a dash of sugar (I omitted this) and salt into a blender and puree.

Voila! You're done. After I finished making it, I realized how not spicy it was so I just went ahead and chopped some jalapenos into it. Great addition :).

Now on to the drinks! Ole!

I tried two different horchata recipes but was not able to take a picture of either one of them before they were consumed a couple nights ago. I remade one of the recipes and took a picture at home today because I wanted my boyfriend and my friend who will be visiting shortly to try it. I chose to make this one again because it tastes like almond milk tea. If you like almond extract, you'll like this one more than the other recipe I used.

Horchata by Ingrid Hoffman (Food Network)

1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
1 quart warm water
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
Whole cinnamon sticks, optional, for serving (I omitted this because it was really expensive and unnecessary)

In a blender, combine the rice and warm water. Blend for 1 to 2 minutes until the rice breaks up but does not form a powder. Let the rice mixture stand in the refrigerator for 6 hours or up to overnight.

Strain the rice mixture into a container through a fine-mesh sieve or several layers of cheesecloth to remove the rice solids. I used coffee filters since I didn't have any of these items at home.

Pour the rice water into a blender and add the milk, vanilla and almond extracts, cinnamon, and sugar. Blend for 1 minute until well combined and smooth. Serve the horchata over ice with cinnamon sticks as stirrers (see - totally unnecessary).

I need a nice camera to take better pictures. This picture (from my camera phone) just doesn't do it any justice. If you're interested in the other horchata recipe I used (which tastes more like horchata and doesn't have any lactose), click here.

Goals in the coming weeks:

- Make two soups. I made one over the weekend but it's not worthy of putting up because it was bland and boring.
- Make an Asian inspired sponge cake with two awesome friends.
- Attend Taste of Hillcrest which features over 60 restaurants and their best menu samplers.
- Try to make Coq au Vin - chicken in red wine sauce that is usually featured in French restaurants.

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