Monday, October 10, 2011

Enchiladas de Mole

Talking about food the other day with my friends Jenn, Genie and Claire I thought I should post my recipe for enchiladas de mole here so everyone can see it and hopefully make it. I must confess first that I cheat when making mole and use flask one...just like 99% of Mexicans who make mole :-P. Making mole from scratch is absolute insanity as it's made with over 17 ingredients that range from several types of peppers, tortillas, different kinds of nut and, of course, chocolate. Lets start with the cheating recipe:

First I boil chicken breasts in water with some cilantro, onion and chicken bouillon. Note, you only use part of the cilantro but don't let the rest go to waste, you can divide it up, put it in ziploc bags and freeze it, it will be perfect for another time you are doing chicken soup or more mole ;-). Once the chicken is thoroughly cooked take the breasts and shred them. Filter out the onion and the cilantro but keep the broth! You might want to wait for a while to shred the chicken if you are doing it by hand, it's hot!

You need 2 very key ingredients, first of all the Mole paste; I use Mole Doña Maria. It usually comes in a glass with an aluminum lid. The second one is Chocolate Abuelita (Ibarra is also good), not only the best chocolate for hot cocoa but absolutely necessary for a good mole. On a frying pan pour about a cup and a half of the chicken broth at medium heat. Add 1/2 tablet of chocolate Abuelita (I have never done it with cocoa and I don't think it will work because this particular chocolate adds thickness to the sauce on top of the awesome flavor). Add 2-3 spoons of the mole paste, the amount depends on how thick you want your sauce, for enchiladas is preferable that the sauce is thick so it stays on the tortillas better. Keep moving the broth with the ingredients on it until the past and the chocolate dissolve making the sauce. I usually cook with no salt or very little and in this case none as the past has enough for me but you might want to try if it's good for you.

Once the sauce has a good consistency leave it boiling at the lowest heat you can. In another frying pan add vegetable oil (olive oil would ruin the flavor) and heat it up to high heat. Take a corn tortilla (I do not approve of substitutions here) and "pass" it through the hot oil. Here it depends on how much you want to fry the tortilla, I like them just a tad crispy but don't let them become tostadas or you won't be able to roll them. Once the tortilla is slightly fried on both sides pass it through the mole sauce. I don't flip over the tortilla because that tends to make them rip. Instead I do one side and take a little bit of the sauce and put it on the inside part of the tortilla. Add some shredded chicken (don't forget to warm it up if it's already cold) to one end of the tortilla and roll it up. Add some cheese, in Mexico I would use queso fresco (a crumbly cheese) but here I use mozzarella, you can also add raw onions and sour cream (not a fan of the latter so I skip it). Repeat the process for however many enchiladas you want and listo!

You can accompany the enchiladas with Mexican rice. Mole sauce is very versatile, if you don't want enchiladas you can just pour it on top of cooked chicken or use it as a bbq kind of thing for shredded beef. On top of rice and add some lime juice to it is fabulous! Some people don't bother with using chicken broth to make mole and use just water but I think that's too much cheating :-P. I find both mole and chocolate abuelita on every supermarket here but that might be because I'm so close to Mexico anyway. Check the biggest supermarket near you for a hispanic-food section and you will probably find both ingredients there. If you absolutely don't find them then there's Amazon, yep they have them, I checked ;-). I hope some or all of you make the recipe and let me know how it went and, of course, how it tasted!

One last thing, now that you bought a package of chocolate Abuelita make some hot cocoa! 1 liter of milk, a couple of sticks of cinnamon, one tablet of chocolate Abuelita and sugar to taste. I guarantee it will be one of the best hot cocoas you have ever had ;-). Provecho!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Butterfly trail #16

I guess that some of you guessed that this hike would be with someone special. Well, you were right. I had been seeing Colomriqueño (he is half Colombian-half Puerto Rican) for a couple of weeks and it was time to take him up to the mountain.

I pretty much decided for the both of us to take on Butterfly trail #16. I had read about it and wanted to try it. The page I use to log my hikes had amazing reviews for the trail and they did say that it was a hard climb in one direction. So, given the wimp climber I am, I thought that if we did it in the opposite direction it wouldn't be so bad, flawless logic right? wrong! Look at the picture on the left, that's the profile of the trail. It climbs down for about a mile and a half and then there's 2.7 miles up. The vertical change in those 2.7 miles is over 2 miles so you can guess how steep that was. Because of the climb people in HikeAZ recommended to shuttle 2 cars to do this trail. Meaning, leaving one car at the end of the trail (mine) and taking the other one to the trailhead (Colomriqueño's).

We started hiking at 10:30am. The first half was pretty awesome. So green, luscious and there were wildflowers and wildberries everywhere. I actually don't know if you can eat those and I didn't want to risk it. We came to a little spring, called Novio spring (btw novio means boyfriend in Spanish :-P). It didn't have much water but it had a good cliff to have lunch. I lost a bagel to the mountain for moving too fast, it fell of the cliff, I hope the fungi-eater beetles enjoy it. After our lunch we kept going and started climbing up and up and up. My heart started racing, I got out of breath and had to stop several times. It was pretty embarrassing given that it was the first time I hiked with Colomriqueño, I should have suggested an easy hike so he wouldn't see me like that. He was a trooper though, always checking on me and being patient when I had to stop and sit down because I was about to pass out. After half an hour we came to a sign marking where the trail divides to other trails, I took out my map to check where we were and I was not sure! Colomriqueño captured the precise moment when I was thinking we were lost. We looked at the map and figure out the way...up.

Colomriqueño is in much better shape than I am so he had no problem with the climb or the distance. My legs started giving up about a mile and a half from the end, it was painful and I was going very very slow. Around that time Colomriqueño asked me if I had the keys to my car in my backpack. I froze and realized that my brilliant idea of the 2 cars had just come crashing down on me. No, I didn't have the keys with me, I left them in his car, over 3 miles up the mountain. I had to sit down for a minute battling the urge to cry, I felt so stupid. Colomriqueño got a little bit upset (rightfully so) but calmed me down and said we would hitchhike a ride up the mountain to get his car and that we had to keep moving because there were clouds moving in and neither of us had rain gear (also thunderstorms up the mountain are very dangerous). He was right, I just had to shake it off and keep going. I knew from my research on the trail that we had to come to the summit of Mt Bigelow so when we got to a sign pointing towards it I thought that was the logic way to go. At that point a light rain had started falling so we had to hurry. After 200ft or so Colomriqueño realized that we had taken a wrong turn so we went back to the sign and figure out he was right. We found the right trail and went down to the road, right in front of a Ranger's Visitors Center. Colomriqueño ran down when he saw a couple of vans were about to leave the Visitors Center, it was our chance to get a ride. I tried following him fast and fell flat on my ass, jajajajajaja. I'm ok, it didn't hurt, I was going down on a steep slope so I wasn't too far from the ground anyway.

Colomriqueño talked to the people in the van and explained our dilemma. The driver was very nice and agreed to take us. It turned out she was transporting mentally-ill people so we had to ride on the back of the van. She apologized a lot for it but we really didn't care, all we wanted was to get the car not having to walk 3 miles up the mountain, after a hard hike, while it was raining. We finally made it up there and got the car. He dropped me off at my car and we drove down the mountain in between patches of really heavy rain. We were very lucky not to get caught in those while we were hiking.

So, even after I got us to hike a really hard trail, lost us a couple of times, forgot the keys to the shuttle car and got us to ride in the back of a van full of crazies Colomriqueño said he had not had such a good hike in a long time. Isn't he awesome? Oh yeah, he is cute too...