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Ceja Vineyards

Recipes

It's no secret we love to cook. In fact, most of our time is spent in or around the kitchen experimenting with new recipes, sharing culinary secrets or preparing old favorites with family and friends. On this page you’ll discover some of our most cherished dishes. We hope you'll try out a few. Don't forget to pair them with Ceja wine!

  1. Almond Flan
  2. Arroz con Leche or Rice Pudding
  3. Black Bean and Corn Salad
  4. Bread Pudding
  5. Breakfast Potato and Longaniza Tacos
  6. Chicken Skewers with Spicy Peanut Sauce
  7. Chilaquiles
  8. Chipotle Hummus
  9. Cocadas or Coconut Macaroons
  10. Churros
  11. Dolmas
  12. Eggplant Tacos with Spicy Yogurt Salsa
  13. Fried Plantains or Tostones with Spicy Aji Salsa
  14. Guacamole
  15. Homemade Granola
  16. Lemon Spaghetti
  17. Mexican Cornbread
  18. Mexican Mango Cake
  19. Mousse de Guayaba or Guava Mousse
  20. Pozole
  21. Roasted Beet Salad
  22. Seared Ahi Tuna and Avocado Tartare
  23. Spicy Cauliflower Soup
  24. Spicy Chipotle Potato Salad
  25. Steamed Dungeness Crab in a Spicy Indonesian Sauce
  26. Succotash of Summer Squash and Corn
  27. Tortilla Soup
  28. Wine Poached Pears

Almond Flan

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Flan or crème caramel is a variant of plain custard (crème) where sugar syrup cooked to caramel stage is poured into the mold before adding the custard base. It is usually cooked in a bain-marie on a stove top or in the oven in a water bath. It is turned and served with the caramel sauce on top, hence the alternate French name crème caramel renversée. An imitation of crème caramel may be prepared from "instant flan powder", which is thickened with agar or carrageenan rather than eggs. In some Latin American countries, the true custard version is known as "milk flan" (flan de leche) or even "milk cheese", and the substitute version is known as just "flan". -Excerpt from Wikipedia

 

Almond Flan
By Dalia Ceja
Serves 10
Cook Time: 1 hour

• 3 eggs
• 1 (12 oz) can of evaporated milk
• 2 (10 oz) cans of sweetened condensed milk
• 1/4 cup slivered blanched almonds
• 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 2 tbsp water

Heat a medium size pan and slowly melt 3/4 cup of sugar. Do not allow caramelized sugar to turn brown or burn - it should be golden in color. Be very careful with this step as the caramelized sugar is incredibly hot!

Moisten a 10-inch square baking dish by sprinkling in a few drops of cold water and then pour in caramelized sugar to coat its bottom. Set baking dish aside to allow sugar to cool and harden. Feel free to put baking dish in the fridge.

In a blender, mix eggs, evaporated milk, condensed milk, almonds and vanilla extract at high speed for 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a glass bowl and gently stir with fork until all bubbles disappear. Preheat oven to 375° F.

Pour egg mixture over the caramel coated baking dish and place it inside another larger baking dish (12 x 14 inches). Add one cup (or as needed) of water to larger dish (this technique is known as 'Baño Maria') and place mid-rack of preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the surface of the flan is golden and firm. Allow flan to cool for 10 minutes.

To serve cut around the edges with sharp knife and gently shuffle baking dish side to side until flan is loosened. Invert a serving platter or tray on top of flan dish and hold sides together and turn flan upside gently yet swiftly - the caramel will be liquefied and delicious. Cut flan into squares and enjoy!

Optional Raspberry Salsa
• 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
• 2 tbsp lime juice
• 4 tbsp water
• 4 tbsp sugar

Add raspberries, lime juice, sugar and water in a food processor or blender and mix for 3 minutes. Add more sugar or water as needed.

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Arroz con Leche or Rice Pudding

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Rice puddings are found in nearly every area of the world. Recipes can greatly vary even within a single country. The dish can be boiled or baked. Different types of pudding vary depending on preparation methods and the ingredients selected. When used as a dessert, it is commonly combined with a sweetener. - Excerpt from Wikipedia

 

Arroz con Leche or Rice Pudding
By Amelia Ceja
Serves 6
Cook Time: 40 minutes

• 1 cup long grain white rice
• 2 cups water
• 3 cups milk
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1 cinnamon stick

Place the water, rice and the cinnamon stick in a medium size pot and bring to a boil -- reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Add the milk and sugar and bring gently to a boil again. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered and stir continually until creamy for about 15 minutes. Can be served hot or cold for breakfast or dessert.

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Black Bean and Corn Salad

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I love making this simple black bean and corn salad during the summer months as it’s both refreshing and savory and super easy to prepare. You can also serve it as a salsa by digging in with chips or tostadas. Never forget to pair it with a chardonnay or rosé.

 

Black Bean and Corn Salad
By Amelia Ceja
Serves 6 to 8
Cook Time: 15 minutes

• 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen corn
• 2 tomatoes, chopped
• 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
• 1/2 small red or white onion, chopped
• 1 jalapeño, finely chopped
• 1 serrano pepper, finely chopped
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
• 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 2 tbsp pickled jalapeño peppers vinegar
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, combine black beans, corn, tomato, bell pepper, onion, jalapeño pepper, serrano pepper and cilantro. In a separate bowl, combine lime juice, oil, cumin, minced garlic and jalapeño vinegar – drizzle over bean mixture and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and serve over a bed of arugula, with tortilla chips or as a side dish.

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Bread Pudding

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Why throw away day-old bread when you can turn it into yummy bread pudding! Also known as "broodpudding", "Capirotada," "Migas" and "Pudín de Pan", this tasty dish is revered all over the world.

 

Bread Pudding
By Dalia Ceja
Serves 8
Cook Time: 45 minutes

• 2 cups granulated sugar
• 5 large beaten eggs
• 2 cups milk
• 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 3 cups cubed sourdough bread
• 1 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter softened
• 1 cup chopped pecans
• 1/3 cup raspberries
• 1/3 cup blueberries
• chocolate sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2 inch pan or use individual ramekins. Mix granulated sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla extract in a bowl. Pour mixture over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes. In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter and pecans. Pour bread mixture into prepared pan or ramekins. Sprinkle brown sugar/pecan mixture over the top and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and let cool. Garnish with fresh blueberries and raspberries then drizzle chocolate sauce over bread pudding.

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Breakfast Potato and Longaniza Tacos

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In the past, when Mexico's population was predominantly rural and agricultural, breakfast tradition included hot beverages and breads at dawn, and a heavier mid-morning almuerzo, consisting of an egg dish (such as huevos rancheros), chilaquiles, meats, beans, tortillas, pastries, and fruits. Commercial cereals are widely consumed now. Today, almuerzo generally means "lunch," and the Mexican breakfast may be the lighter or heavier version depending on personal taste or occasion. Usually, workday breakfasts differ from weekend or leisure day breakfasts in the amount and types of foods. Restaurants and hotels serve mainly buffet-style breakfasts with a variety of foods, oftentimes including "quesadillas" of various fillings, scrambled eggs, refried beans, chilaquiles, fruits and cereals. Menudo, a tripe stew considered a folk remedy for a hangover, has become a breakfast dish as well as one eaten at other meals. As with other large countries, breakfast in Mexico differs according to the region. - Excerpt from Wikipedia

 

Breakfast Potato and Longaniza Tacos
By Dalia Ceja
Serves 4
Cook Time: 45 minutes

• 10 oz Mexican Longaniza, casings removed
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 small onion, diced
• 5 garlic cloves
• 1 serrano chile, diced
• 3 roma tomatoes, chopped
• 12 small potatoes (any kind will do)
• sliced avocado
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1 pinch of cumin

Remove casings and add longaniza to a sauté pan on a medium heat. Break up longaniza with a spatula and thoroughly cook for 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the longaniza to a paper lined plate to absorb any additional oil.

Cut potatoes into thin triangles and cook in sauté pan on a medium heat with a little bit of olive oil until golden-brown. Remove potatoes and set aside.

In the same pan add in chopped onion, garlic, tomatoes, jalapeño, cumin and olive oil and cook for 5 minutes. Mix in the potatoes and longaniza and continue sautéing until well integrated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Warm up corn tortillas and make some tacos! Garnish with sliced avocado.

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Chicken Skewers with Spicy Peanut Sauce

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One of the main characteristics of Indonesian cuisine is the wide applications of bumbu kacang (peanut sauce) in many Indonesian signature dishes such as satay, gado-gado, karedok, ketoprak, pecel. It is usually added to main ingredients (meat or vegetable) to add taste, or used as dipping sauce such as sambal kacang (a mixture of ground chili and fried peanuts) for otak-otak or ketan. Introduced from Mexico by Portuguese and Spanish merchants in the 16th century, peanuts found a place within Indonesian cuisine as a popular sauce. Indonesian peanut sauce represents a sophisticated, earthy thing rather than a sweet, gloppy sauce. Peanuts thrived in the tropical environment of Southeast Asia, and today, they can be found roasted and chopped finely, topping a variety of dishes and in marinades and dipping sauces. Peanut sauce reached its sophistication in Indonesia, with the delicate balance of taste acquired from various ingredients according to each recipe of peanut sauce; fried peanuts, gula jawa (palm sugar), garlic, shallot, ginger, tamarind, lemon juice, lemongrass, salt, chilli, pepper, sweet soy sauce, ground together and mixed with water to acquire right texture. The secret to good peanut sauce is “not too thick and not too watery.” -Excerpt from Wikipedia

 

Chicken Skewers with Spicy Peanut Sauce
By Dalia Ceja
Serves 6
Cook Time: 1 hour

For Chicken Skewers
• 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
• 1/2 cup lite coconut milk
• 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
• 1 shallot peeled and thinly sliced
• 3 cloves of garlic minced
• 1 1/2 tsp Thai fish sauce
• 1 tbsp brown sugar
• 1 lime
• 1 tbsp minced ginger
• 1 lb skinless boneless chicken breast pounded slightly and cut into 1-inch strips

For Peanut Sauce
• 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
• 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
• 3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
• 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
• 1 1/2 tbsp minced ginger
• 2 tbsp lime juice
• 1 tsp garlic minced
• 1/2 tsp chili flakes
• 1 tsp red curry paste
• 1 shallot peeled and roughly chopped

Mix chicken strips with marinade ingredients in bowl and let sit in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

In a blender, add all peanut sauce ingredients and blend until smooth.

Skewer chicken strips using bamboo skewers (soak skewers in water for 15 minutes prior to use so that they do not burn) and place on heated grill turning often until done. Serve with peanut sauce and enjoy!

Additionally, feel free to skewer and grill an assortment of chopped zucchini, mushrooms and eggplants that have been lightly brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt.

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Chilaquiles

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Chilaquiles are a traditional Mexican dish. Typically, corn tortillas cut in quarters and lightly fried are the basis of the dish. Green or red salsa or mole, is poured over the crispy tortilla triangles, called totopos. The mixture is simmered until the tortilla starts softening. Eggs (scrambled or fried) and pulled chicken are sometimes added to the mix. The dish is topped with cheese (typically queso fresco) and/or sour cream (crema), and it is served with refried beans. Like many dishes, regional and familiar variation are quite common. Usually, chilaquiles are eaten at breakfast or brunch. This makes them a popular recipe to use leftover tortillas and salsas. Moreover, chilaquiles are often lauded as a cure for the common hangover; this is because in Mexico it is believed that spicy foods help in the recovery process from a hangover. This can be attributed to the body's reaction to chemicals released (chiles contain the chemical capsaicin, a potent and well-documented pain reliever). - Excerpt from Wikipedia

 

Chilaquiles
By Amelia Ceja
Serves 8
Cook Time: 50 minutes

• 2 dozen corn tortillas each tortilla cut into 8 wedges
• 10 beaten eggs
• corn oil
• salt to taste
• 3 lbs tomatoes coarsely chopped
• 3 jalapeño peppers coarsely chopped
• 3 minced garlic cloves
• 3 tbsp olive oil
• 1 medium white or yellow onion coarsely chopped
• Cotija cheese or queso fresco
• Crema Mexicana or créme fraiche
• cilantro chopped
• avocado sliced

For Spicy Tomato Salsa
Place coarsely chopped tomatoes and jalapeño peppers into a saucepan then add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove cooked tomatoes, jalapeño peppers and the cooking liquid from saucepan into a blender. Add minced garlic cloves and pulse until blended but not puréed. Then add 2 tbsp of olive oil to a medium hot sauté pan. Add in the coarsely chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the contents from the blender and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For Chilaquiles
In a large sauté pan, coat pan generously with corn oil (1/4 inch), heat to medium high to high. When the oil is hot, add 1/2 of the tortillas, and fry until golden brown. Remove tortillas to a paper towel lined plate to soak up excess oil. Repeat the procedure with the rest of the tortillas. Wipe pan clean of any browned bits of tortillas.

Add 3 tbsp olive oil to pan and bring to medium heat. Add the fried tortillas then pour the beaten eggs over them. Stir with a spatula to coat the tortillas with the beaten eggs and cook until eggs are set (about 5 minutes). Now add in spicy tomato salsa and stir until most of the salsa is absorbed by the tortilla-egg mixture (about 5 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a few more minutes. Serve immediately and garnish with crumbled Cotija cheese or queso fresco, Crema Mexicana or crème fraiche, chopped cilantro and an avocado slice.

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Chipotle Hummus

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I often make this hummus dish when I’m entertaining guests and I’m in a bit of a rush. It’s the perfect snack that everyone loves and it’s so quick and easy to prepare. The addition of a Serrano chile and chipotle pepper gives this homemade recipe a subtle spiciness and smokiness that I crave. Dipping sauce lovers rejoice!

 

Chipotle Hummus
By Dalia Ceja
Serves 4
Cook Time: 15 minutes

• 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained (keep 1/4 cup of the liquid and set aside)
• 2 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
• 4 tbsp lemon juice
• 1/2 tsp reduced-sodium tamari
• 1/2 tsp ground cumin
• 1/2 tsp smoked paprika powder
• 1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce
• 2 fire roasted garlic cloves
• 1 fire roasted Serrano chile
• Salt to taste

Char the garlic and Serrano chile over an open flame or use a flat griddle. Add to a food processor followed by all the other ingredients. Blend all ingredients for one minute. Transfer hummus to a bowl and feel free to serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator for later consumption. Devour hummus with veggie sticks, chips, pita bread, etc. It’s time to get your snack on!

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Cocadas or Coconut Macaroons

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Cocadas are a typical coconut candy or cookie that is served in Mexico, Brazil and over much of Latin America. They are oven baked but are served at room temperature to obtain their chewy and soft texture. Dalia Ceja presents her simple yet yummy version of this famed delight incorporating sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract. Try cocadas with cafe con leche or a bright dessert wine!

 

Cocadas or Coconut Macaroons
By Dalia Ceja
Serves 6
Cook Time: 35 minutes

• 3 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
• 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
• 1 cup chopped pecans
• 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
• 1 tsp of cornstarch

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, stir together the coconut, cornstarch, condensed milk, pecans and vanilla extract. Let the mixture sit for 3 minutes. Roll two tablespoons of mixture into miniature balls and place them onto a parchment lined cookie sheet about 1- inch apart. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown (watch closely). Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.

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Churros

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Churros, sometimes referred to as a Spanish doughnut, are fried-dough pastry-based snacks, sometimes made from potato dough, that originated in Spain. They are also popular in Latin America, France, Portugal, Morocco, the United States, Australia, and Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands. There are two types of churros in Spain. One is thin (and sometimes knotted) and the other is long and thick (porra). They both are normally eaten for breakfast dipped in hot chocolate or café con leche. -Excerpt from Wikipedia

 

Churros
By Dalia Ceja
Serves 6
Cook Time: 20 minutes

• 2 1/2 cups water
• 1 1/2 cup flour
• 1 stick of butter
• 4 eggs
• 2 tbsp sugar
• 1 tbsp salt
• vegetable oil

Bring water to a boil in medium sized pot. Add in butter and let melt. Add in flour and mix rapidly until dough is formed. Reduce flame and add eggs to pot one at a time mixing thoroughly by hand. Then mix in sugar and salt. Let dough cool for a few minutes then place dough in a frosting dispenser with a wide tip.

***If you don’t have a fryer, buy a candy thermometer to measure the temperature of the oil. Be extremely careful when frying.

Add 3 cups of vegetable oil to a saucepan and bring oil up to 350 degrees F. Slowly squeeze out churro batter from frosting dispenser into pieces 6 or 7 inches long and carefully drop into oil without splashing. Using tongs, slowing turn over churros. Fry churros for 8 to 10 minutes. Once done, allow churros to cool on paper napkins for a minute or two to soak up excess oil.

For Sugar Coating
Mix together a few tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon. Roll churros in this sugar/cinnamon mixture.

For Chocolate Sauce
• 4 oz of semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
• 2 cups of milk
• 1 tbsp of cornstarch
• 4 tbsp of sugar

Place chocolate and 1 cup of milk in pan and heat on low. When chocolate has melted, dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining cup of milk and whisk into the chocolate with sugar. Cook on low heat whisking constantly until the chocolate is thickened (about 5 minutes). Mix in extra cornstarch if necessary. Once done, pour all over churros!

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Dolmas

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Dolma is a family of stuffed vegetable dishes in the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and surrounding regions such as Russia, Iran and the Caucasus and Central and South Asia. Perhaps the best-known is the grape-leaf dolma. Common vegetables to stuff include zucchini, eggplant, tomato and pepper. The stuffing may or may not include meat. Meat dolma are generally served warm, often with sauce; meatless ones are generally served cold, though meatless dolma are eaten both ways in Iran. Both are often eaten with yogurt.

 

Dolmas
By Amelia Ceja
Serves 8
Cook Time: 2 hours

• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 1 onion, minced
• 1 1/2 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
• 2 tbsp tomato paste
• 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
• 4 cups chicken broth
• 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
• grape leaves, drained and rinsed
• 2 cups hot water
• salt to taste

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté the rice for about 3 minutes in 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add the minced onion and cook for 1 more minute. Pour in 2 cups of hot water, salt to taste and reduce heat to low. Cover saucepan and simmer until all the water has been absorbed for another 10 minutes, or until rice is half cooked. Remove from heat and transfer to a glass bowl and stir in tomato paste, lemon juice and chopped fresh mint leaves. Mix these ingredients well. Let mixture cool for about 15 minutes.

If using store bought leaves, take one leaf, shiny side down, and place 1 teaspoon of the rice mixture at the bottom end of the leaf. Fold both sides of the leaf towards the center, roll up from the broad bottom to the top and place into the pot. Repeat with all leaves. Ensure that there are no gaps when placing the dolmas in the pot to prevent them from opening while cooking. Sprinkle with remaining olive oil.

Pour chicken broth to cover all dolmas. Cover pot and bring to a gentle boil then simmer for about 1 hour (the stuffing must not burst out of the leaves). Remove from heat, remove cover and let cool for 30 minutes. Transfer to serving dish and serve.

Chef’s Tip
If using fresh grape leaves, cut stem off and plunge the leaves into a deep pot of very hot water for about 1 minute to soften. Ensure that the leaves do not lose their fresh green color.

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Eggplant Tacos with Spicy Yogurt Salsa

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The raw eggplant fruit can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. Traditionally, recipes would advise the salting, rinsing and draining of the sliced fruit (known as "degorging") to soften it and to reduce the amount of fat absorbed during cooking, but mainly to remove the bitterness of the earlier cultivars. Some modern varieties - including those large, purple varieties commonly imported into western Europe - do not need this treatment. The fruit is capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, allowing for very rich dishes, but the salting process will reduce the amount of oil absorbed. The fruit flesh is smooth; as in the related tomato, the numerous seeds are soft and edible along with the rest of the fruit. The thin skin is also edible, so peeling is not required.

The plant is used in cuisines from Japan to Spain. It is often stewed, as in the French ratatouille, or deep fried as in the Italian parmigiana di melanzane, the Turkish karnıyarık or Turkish and Greek musakka/moussaka, and Middle-Eastern and South Asian dishes. Eggplants can also be battered before deep-frying and served with a sauce made of tahini and tamarind. In Iranian cuisine, it can be blended with whey as kashk e-bademjan, tomatoes as mirza ghasemi or made into stew as khoresh-e-bademjan. It can be sliced and deep-fried, then served with plain yogurt, (optionally) topped with a tomato and garlic sauce, such as in the Turkish dish patlıcan kızartması (meaning: fried aubergines) or without yogurt as in patlıcan şakşuka. However, arguably the most famous Turkish eggplant dish duo is İmam bayıldı (vegetarian) and Karnıyarık (with minced meat). - Excerpt from Wikipedia

 

Eggplant Tacos with Spicy Yogurt Salsa
By Amelia Ceja
Serves 6
Cook time: 25 minutes

For Spice Mixture
• 1 tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 tsp cumin
• 1/4 tsp black pepper
• 1/2 tsp salt

For Yogurt Sauce
• 1 cup plain yogurt
• 1/3 cup buttermilk
• 2 chopped chipotle peppers
• 2 tbsp adobo sauce from chipotle peppers
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
• 1/8 tsp black pepper
• 1/4 tsp cumin
• 1/4 tsp kosher salt or to taste
• 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

For Eggplant
• 1 large eggplant or 3 long Asian eggplants
• Olive oil
• 12 warm corn tortillas
• 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco
• 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Cut eggplant lengthwise about 1/2 inch thick. Brush olive oil on both sides. Combine all spice mixture ingredients and sprinkle on eggplant. Grill eggplant pieces on medium-high heat for 4 minutes on both sides or until tender. Once grilled, cut the eggplant slices in one inch strips to create smaller pieces. Place eggplant pieces on a warm corn tortilla. In a bowl, mix all yogurt salsa ingredients and then add to eggplant taco. Garnish with crumbled queso fresco and cilantro.

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Fried Plantains or Tostones with Spicy Aji Salsa

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Tostones (from the Spanish verb tostar which means "to toast") or patacones are a side dish that is popular in many Latin American countries. The dish is made from sliced green (unripe) plantains which are cut either lengthwise or widthwise and fried until they are crisp and golden brown. Tostones are salted and eaten much like potato chips/crisps or French fries/chips. In some regions it is customary to dip them in mojo (a garlic sauce). In some countries, they are served topped with cheese as an appetizer. They can also be bought pre-made from supermarkets. This food is found in all varieties of Caribbean cuisine. Tostones are also a staple of Latin American countries and the Caribbean, including Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, the north coast of Honduras, and Haiti. -Excerpt from Wikipedia

 

Fried Plantains or Tostones with Spicy Aji Salsa
By Dalia Ceja
Serves 4
Cook Time: 25 minutes

For Fried Plantains
• 3 large plantains
• Oil for frying
• salt to taste

For Aji Salsa
• 1/2 head of romaine lettuce
• 3 jalapeños, fire roasted and deseeded
• 1/4 cup mayonnaise
• 3 green onions, coarsely chopped
• 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves
• juice from 2 limes
• salt and pepper to taste

For Plantains
Heat oil to 375 degrees F. Peel plantains and cut into 3/4 inch slices. Place sliced plantains in a bowl of salt water for 5 minutes. This aids in turning plantains crisp and golden brown when frying.

Fry plantains in hot oil for about 3 minutes. They should be a golden brown in color, crisp on the edges and semi-soft in the center. Remove plantain slices with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

For Aji Salsa
Fireroast jalapeño chiles on comal or griddle then deseed. Coarsely chop chiles, lettuce, garlic, cilantro and green onions then add to a food processor or blender. Add in mayonnaise, garlic cloves, juice from two limes and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Process for 3 to 4 minutes on a medium level.

Sprinkle salt on plantains then serve with aji salsa.

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Guacamole

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The key to making a well-rounded guacamole is having the perfect amount of acidity, spiciness and texture. I don’t know about you but I like my guacamole fully loaded with red onions, cilantro, tomatoes, jalapenos and more! Having grown up in a Mexican household, I consider myself a guacamole enthusiast and find any excuse to make a batch and enjoy it with a nice cold beer or glass of wine.

 

Guacamole
By Dalia Ceja
Serves 8
Cook Time: 25 minutes

• 5 avocados
• 4 roma tomatoes, chopped
• 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
• 1/2 red onion, chopped
• 1 serrano chile, finely chopped
• 2 pickled jalapeno chiles, finely chopped
• lime juice from two limes
• 1/4 cup jalapeno juice
• salt and pepper to taste

Cut avocado lengthwise and take out pit. Spoon avocado into a bowl. Squeeze some lime juice on top of avocado so that they won’t brown. Finely chop all of the ingredients and add them to the bowl. Don’t mix ingredients until you are ready to serve. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with chips or tostadas.

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Homemade Granola

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Aside from homemade granola being one of my favorite breakfast foods, this nutritious snack aids in fueling my body as I’m currently training for a half marathon. I love munching on granola after a workout or adding it to yogurt with fresh berries for a quick breakfast. Kids also go gaga over this recipe so whenever I have my young cousins around I much prefer offering them granola with milk as opposed to sugary cereals. It’s time to get your “snack on”.

 

Homemade Granola
By Dalia Ceja
Serves 4
Cook Time: 30 minutes

• 2 cups old-fashioned oats
• 1/2 cup dried cranberries
• 1 cup sliced almonds
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
• 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
• 1/4 cup honey, plus more for serving
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• Mixed berries for serving

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix oats, dried cranberries, sliced almonds, cinnamon and salt. Set the dry ingredients aside. Add butter to a saucepan and melt on low heat. Once butter is melted, add in brown sugar, honey and vanilla extract. Stir well for two minutes. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and mix well. Spread granola onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with a nonstick cooking spray and press granola down with a spatula. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake granola for 20 minutes. Once out of the oven allow granola to cool and then break into small pieces. Add granola to yogurt and fresh berries, enjoy as cereal or simply devour as a tasty snack!

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Lemon Spaghetti

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Inspired by a simple yet delicious Giada De Laurentiis recipe, I spice up lemon spaghetti with serrano chile and chile flakes. This is the perfect summer pasta that is wonderful on its own but can also accompany grilled chicken or prawns. Don’t forget to pair your favorite wine with this zesty dish!

 

Lemon Spaghetti
By Dalia Ceja
Serves 6
Cook Time: 20 minutes

• 1 pound spaghetti
• 2/3 cup olive oil
• 2/3 cup grated Parmesan
• 1/2 serrano chile, minced
• Dash of chili flakes
• 1 tbsp crushed garlic
• 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
• Salt and black pepper to taste
• 1 tsp lemon zest
• 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Cook the pasta in salted water for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. In a large bowl, mix the olive oil, Serrano chile, chili flakes, Parmesan cheese and lemon juice. Toss in the pasta and reserved cooking liquid until it is coated thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Plate the pasta and garnish with lemon zest and freshly chopped basil.

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Mexican Cornbread

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Skillet-fried or skillet-baked cornbread (often simply called skillet bread or hoecake depending on the container in which it is cooked) is a traditional staple of rural cuisine in the United States, especially in the South. This involves heating bacon drippings, lard or other oil in a heavy, well-seasoned cast iron skillet in an oven, and then pouring a batter made from cornmeal, egg, and milk directly into the hot grease. The mixture is returned to the oven to bake into a large, crumbly and sometimes very moist cake with a crunchy crust. This bread tends to be dense and usually served as an accompaniment rather than as a bread served as a regular course. In addition to the skillet method, such cornbread also may be made in sticks, muffins, or loaves. -Excerpt from Wikipedia

 

Mexican Cornbread
By Dalia Ceja
Serves 6
Cook Time: 45 minutes

• 2 ears of corn or 2 cups of frozen and thawed (charred) corn
• 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter cut into pieces
• 1/4 cup vegetable oil
• 3 jalapeños finely diced with some seeds
• 1 1/4 cup cornmeal (preferably stone-ground not coarse)
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 tbsp sugar
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
• 2 large eggs
• 1 tsp bacon lard (optional)
• 1/2 cup honey

*Special equipment: a 9 1/2- to 10-inch well-seasoned cast-iron skillet

Heat grill to medium high. Lightly brush corn with oil and grill turning every 3 minutes until charred and golden brown. Cut kernels off cobs.  Sauté kernels with chopped jalapeños for 3 minutes with a little bit of olive oil. Set aside. If using frozen corn, make sure corn is properly thawed before sautéing with jalapeños.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. Add butter, lard and oil to skillet and heat in oven until melted (typically 5 minutes), then carefully pour into a medium bowl.

Whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, corn/jalapeño mixture and eggs into melted butter and honey, then stir into cornmeal mixture until well mixed. Pour into hot skillet and bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool in skillet for 5 minutes then serve.

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Mexican Mango Cake

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The mango is the most consumed fruit in the world. Mango is used to make juices, smoothies, ice cream, fruit bars, raspados, aguas frescas, pies and sweet chili sauce, or mixed with chamoy, a sweet and spicy chili paste. It is popular on a stick dipped in hot chili powder and salt or also as a main ingredient in fresh fruit combinations. In Central America, mango is either eaten green mixed with salt, vinegar, black pepper and hot sauce, or ripe in various forms. Toasted and ground pumpkin seed (called pepita) with lime and salt are the norm when eating green mangoes. Some people also add soy sauce or chili sauce. Pieces of mango can be mashed and used as a topping on ice cream or blended with milk and ice as milkshakes. - Excerpt from Wikipedia

 

Mexican Mango Cake
By Dalia Ceja
Serves 8
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

For Cake
• 3 cups cake flour
• 6 large eggs
• 3 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• 2 cups granulated sugar
• 2/3 cup buttermilk
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
• citrus zest

For Mango Salsa
• 2 1/2 cups chopped fresh or frozen and thawed mango
• 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
• 8 oz cream cheese
• 2 tbsp water
• edible flowers as garnish (optional)

For Cake
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, beating well after each addition then mix in vanilla extract, buttermilk and citrus zest. Then add dry ingredients and continue mixing.

Pour batter into a cake pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove cake pan from oven and place on a wire rack and allow cake to cool completely. Invert cake onto a platter or serving tray.

For Mango Salsa
Combine the mango, water, sugar and cream cheese in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth. Add extra water if necessary. Pour the mango salsa evenly over the cake and feel free to decorate with edible flowers.

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Mousse de Guayaba or Guava Mousse

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Guava fruit, usually 4 to 12 cm long, are round or oval depending on the species. The outer skin may be rough, often with a bitter taste, or soft and sweet. Varying between species, the skin can be any thickness, is usually green before maturity, but becomes yellow, maroon, or green when ripe. Guava fruit generally have a pronounced and typical fragrance, similar to lemon rind but less sharp. Guava pulp may be sweet or sour, off-white ("white" guavas) to deep pink ("red" guavas), with the seeds in the central pulp of variable number and hardness, depending on species. - Excerpt from Wikipedia

 

Mousse de Guayaba or Guava Mousse
By Dalia Ceja
Serves 8
Cook Time: 2 hours

• 1 28oz can of whole guavas in syrup
• 1 cup milk
• 1/2 cup condensed milk
• 3 tbsp unflavored gelatin
• 1/2 tsp vanilla
• whipped cream (optional)

Pour the milk and gelatin in a glass bowl and mix well. Then, heat the bowl in a microwave until milk begins to boil and gelatin is dissolved. Let cool and set aside.

In a blender, process the guavas and syrup until smooth. Strain the pureéd guavas to remove the seeds and return to blender. Add the dissolved gelatin with milk, condensed milk and vanilla. Blend at high speed for one minute.

Distribute guava mixture in eight martini glasses and chill in refrigerator until set. Can be served with fresh whipped cream and garnished with a fresh mint leaf.

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Pozole

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Pozole is a hearty soup that originated in the state of Jalisco. The main ingredient is hominy - dried white or yellow corn kernels that have been boiled and soaked in slaked lime to remove the hull, and then drained, rinsed, and cooked for about 2 hours. Pozole also contains garlic and dried chiles and is often made with chicken or pork and is always served with fresh toppings such as cabbage, radishes, cilantro, a pinch of dried Mexican oregano and lime juice. This recipe is easy to prepare at home using canned hominy for convenience.

 

Pozole
By Amelia Ceja
Serves 12
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

• 10 cups Mexican style hominy -- drained (a 6lb 9oz can available at most grocery stores)
• 10 dried Pasilla peppers
• 10 dried Guajillo peppers
• 10 garlic cloves
• 10 whole peppercorns
• 8 cloves
• 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
• 7 lbs skinless drumsticks thighs or breasts thoroughly washed
• 1 whole garlic head
• 3 bay leaves
• salt
• sliced radishes
• shredded cabbage
• chopped cilantro
• chopped serrano peppers
• dried Mexican oregano
• lime juice
• water

Break the stems from the Pasilla and Guajillo chiles and shake the seeds from the pods. Soak the chiles in warm water for 3 minutes. Add the chiles to a pot of boiling water and boil until soft, between 5 and 15 minutes. When done, put the chiles with the cooking liquid in a blender with the garlic cloves, whole peppercorns, cloves and a teaspoon of Mexican dried oregano. Blend until smooth and set aside.

To a large pot of gently boiling water, add the washed chicken parts, the head of garlic, 3 bay leaves and salt. Skim the foam and excess fat from the surface of the boiling chicken to get a clear broth. Lower the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked - about 20 minutes.

Remove the chicken parts from the broth and allow to cool. Debone the chicken parts and shred into smaller pieces and set aside. Add the drained canned hominy and blended chiles mixture to the chicken broth. Simmer for 30 minutes and then add the shredded chicken and adjust seasoning with salt. Serve in large bowls garnished with sliced radishes, shredded cabbage, chopped cilantro, chopped Serrano peppers, a pinch of dried Mexican oregano and lime juice.

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Roasted Beet Salad

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The beetroot, also known as the table beet, garden beet, red beet or informally simply as beet, is one of the many cultivated varieties of beets (Beta vulgaris) and arguably the most commonly encountered variety in North America, Central America and Britain. The usually deep-red roots of beetroot are eaten boiled either as a cooked vegetable, or cold as a salad after cooking and adding oil and vinegar, or raw and shredded, either alone or combined with any salad vegetable. A large proportion of the commercial production is processed into boiled and sterilised beets or into pickles. In Eastern Europe beet soup, such as borscht, is a popular dish. Yellow-colored beetroots are grown on a very small scale for home consumption. The green leafy portion of the beet is also edible. It is most commonly served boiled or steamed, in which case it has a taste and texture similar to spinach. - Excerpt from Wikipedia

 

Roasted Beet Salad
By Amelia Ceja
Serves 6
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

• 10 small beets ( have fun and mix different beets for a burst of color)
• crumbled Cotija cheese
• 3 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
• 2 cups baby arugula
• 1/3 cup cayenne toasted pumpkin seeds
• olive oil
• salt and pepper to taste
• cayenne Pepper (as needed)
• 10 small pieces of tin foil

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Rinse the beets in water and cut the stems and base off. Place beets in a bowl and toss with one teaspoon olive oil, one teaspoon cayenne pepper and salt. Next, wrap each beet in a piece of tin foil. When all the beets are wrapped, place them in a pan or sheet tray and roast in the oven for 45 minutes or until beets are cooked through. When the beets are cooled, unwrap, peel and cut into quarters.

Mix pumpkin seeds, one teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of cayenne pepper and toast in a small pan at medium-high heat.

For Dressing
Whisk together Balsamic vinegar, two tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

In a bowl, combine the beet sections with some of the dressing. In a separate bowl, combine the arugula with some of the dressing as well. To assemble, place a bed of arugula on a plate. Next, add six roasted beet pieces and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds, Cotija cheese and drizzle with additional dressing.

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Seared Ahi Tuna and Avocado Tartare

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The yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) is a species of tuna found in pelagic waters of tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide. Yellowfin is often marketed as ahi, from its Hawaiian name ‘ahi although the name ‘ahi in Hawaiian also refers to the closely related bigeye tuna. The species name, albacares ("white meat") can lead to confusion. The tuna known as albacore in English, is a different species of tuna: Thunnus alalunga. However, yellowfin tuna is officially designated albacore in French, and is referred to as albacora by Portuguese fishermen. - Excerpt from Wikipedia

 

Seared Ahi Tuna and Avocado Tartare
By Amelia Ceja
Serves 6
Cook Time: 20 minutes

• 1 8-ounce ahi tuna steak
• 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, diced
• 2 Serrano chiles, minced
• 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
• 1/3 cup red onion, chopped
• 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
• 1 tbsp soy sauce
• 1/4 cup lime juice
• 2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
• salt and white pepper to taste

Heat 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a heavy small skillet over high heat for 2 minutes. Brush tuna with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in skillet and sear until slightly brown outside and almost opaque in center, about 2 minutes per side. Cool tuna; dice finely. Combine tuna, remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and all remaining ingredients in medium bowl. Using a fork, mix gently and evenly. Season tartare to taste with salt and pepper and chill. Serve with chips or over a small corn tostada.

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Spicy Cauliflower Soup

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Soups are an integral part of Mexican cuisine, and sopa de coliflor is a favorite among the Ceja family, especially during wintertime. The Serrano pepper adds a slight spice component that pairs nicely with Chardonnay.

 

Spicy Cauliflower Soup
By Amelia Ceja
Serves 8
Cook Time: 1 hour

• 1 cauliflower rinsed and cut into flowerets
• 4 leeks rinsed and thinly sliced crosswise
• 1 chopped yellow onion
• 2 medium-sized potatoes peeled and cut in quarters
• 1 serrano pepper finely chopped
• 6 garlic cloves finely chopped
• 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 10 cups chicken broth
• 4 tbsp chives finely chopped
• 4 tbsp cilantro finely chopped
• Salt and white pepper to taste

Heat oil in large saucepan and sauté leeks, onion, serrano pepper and chopped garlic and cook until translucent (about 8 minutes). Add cauliflower florets, quartered potatoes and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes and cauliflower are tender.

In a blender, process cauliflower mixture until smooth and creamy and return it to saucepan. Stirring frequently, simmer for 15 minutes until desired thickness. Add more chicken broth if too thick. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Feel free to garnish with Dungeness crab, lobster, shrimp or seared scallops and finely chopped chives and cilantro. Serve with crusty sourdough bread.

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Spicy Chipotle Potato Salad

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A chipotle, which comes from the Nahuatl word chilpoktli meaning "smoked chili pepper" is a smoke-dried jalapeño that tends to be brown and shriveled. It is a chili used primarily in Mexican and Mexican-inspired cuisines, such as Mexican-American and Tex-Mex. Varieties of jalapeño vary in size and heat. In Mexico, the jalapeño is also known as the cuaresmeño and gordo. Until recently, chipotles were largely found in the markets of central and southern Mexico. As Mexican food became more popular abroad, especially in North and South America in the late 20th century, jalapeño production and processing began to expand into northern Mexico to serve the southwestern United States, and eventually processing occurred in the United States and other places such as China. - Excerpt from Wikipedia

 

Spicy Chipotle Potato Salad
By Dalia Ceja
Serves 6
Cook Time: 45 minutes

• 15 small red potatoes (cut into 1-inch cubes after being boiled)
• 1 cup sour cream
• 1/2 cup plain yogurt
• 1/2 cup cooked longaniza
• 2 tbsp spicy mustard
• 2 canned chipotle chiles
• 1 red onion, chopped
• 2 tbsp white vinegar
• 1 jalapeño pepper
• 3 long sticks of celery
• 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
• 1 tsp salt
• 5 hard-boiled eggs, cut into cubes
• 1 shallot, minced
• 1 tbsp lemon juice
• chives or chopped green onions as a garnish

Fill a pot with water and add salt and potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook potatoes for about 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool. Boil eggs for 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and let cool. Once cool, cube the eggs and discard half of the yolk. Set cubed eggs aside. In a sauté pan, cut the longaniza link until it is nice and crumbled. Cook until tender yet crispy on the edges. Once longaniza is done cooking, place it on top of paper napkins and set aside. Finely chop the onion, chipotle chiles, jalapeño, celery sticks and shallot.

In a large mixing bowl, first combine and mix sour cream, yogurt, chipotle peppers, jalapeño, spicy mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated then stir in the rest of the chopped items. Garnish with chopped chives or green onions. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

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Steamed Dungeness Crab in a Spicy Indonesian Sauce

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Our family savors this delicious main course for our Thanksgiving dinner when fresh Dungeness crabs are available. Some flavors seem made for each other and tamarind salsa poured over crab is one of those perfect culinary marriages. How do you like to prepare crab? Please let us know in the comments section.

 

Steamed Dungeness Crab in a Spicy Indonesian Sauce
By Amelia Ceja
Serves 4
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

• 4 crabs separated, cleaned, and cracked

For Crab Reduction Broth
• 8 to 12 small crab legs
• 8 whole garlic cloves
• 1/2 a red onion
• 2 stalks of celery cut in half
• 5 cups of water
• 2 bay leafs
• salt to taste

For Tamarind Salsa
• 2 tamarind pods
• 1 coarsely chopped white onion
• 2 tbsp minced Serrano peppers
• 2 tbsp minced garlic cloves
• 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
• 2 tbsp soy sauce
• 2 tbsp corn starch
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• salt and pepper to taste

For Crab Reduction Broth
In a saucepan, add in small crab legs (8 to 12) with 8 whole cloves of garlic, 1/2 an onion, 2 stalks of celery cut in half, 5 cups of water, 2 bay leafs and a few pinches of salt. Gently simmer until the liquid is reduced to 2 cups.

For the Tamarind Salsa
Peel the tamarind’s shell and soak in water. Discard seeds and just keep the pulp. Set aside.

Sauté chopped white onion, minced Serrano peppers, minced garlic, minced ginger and salt and pepper to taste in two tablespoons of olive oil for 10 minutes. Add in the crab reduction broth and soy sauce and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes.

In a blender or food processor, combine the sautéed ingredients/crab broth mixture and tamarind pulp. Process until smooth. Return the processed Indonesian sauce back to the pan and bring gently to a boil. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with water and slowly add this mixture to Indonesian sauce while stirring. Simmer for 5 minutes until slightly thickened.

Steam the cracked crab pieces for five minutes then place in a large bowl. Pour in the Indonesian sauce and coat well. Serve immediately. Make sure you have a bib and lots of napkins.

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Succotash of Summer Squash and Corn

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Soft-skinned summer squash has an edible rind with a sweet, mild taste that is perfectly accentuated with a little butter in this succotash recipe. Look for summer squash at your local farmer’s market. If you can’t find summer squash, substitute green or yellow zucchini.

 

Succotash of Summer Squash and Corn
By Amelia Ceja
Serves 4
Cook Time: 25

• 2 tbsp unsalted butter, or more to taste
• 4 small summer squash, such as yellow crookneck, diced
• Kernels from 4 ears of corn
• 1 diced small sweet onion
• 2 minced garlic cloves
• 1 chopped fire roasted serrano pepper
• 1/4 cup chopped basil
• 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
• Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium saute pan. When melted, add onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add garlic and roasted serrano pepper and cook for two more minutes. Add squash, corn, and season with salt and pepper to taste – cover until squash and corn are tender, about 7 to 10 minutes (stirring occasionally). Sprinkle with fresh basil and cilantro. Stir well and serve.

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Tortilla Soup

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Tortilla soup or Sopa Azteca as it is also known, gets its name from the thin strips of fried tortillas strips that are added just before it's served. Traditionally, soups in Mexico have been used by the masses as a way to stretch an ingredient as far as possible. Sopa Azteca, it is believed, was created at least partially as a way to use up leftover stale tortillas.

 

Tortilla Soup
By Dalia Ceja
Serves 6
Cook Time: 45 minutes

• 1 large dried pasilla (negro) chile stemmed and seeded
• 1 15oz can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted)
• 2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
• 1 medium white onion sliced 1/4-inch thick
• 5 garlic cloves peeled and diced
• 8 cups chicken broth
• 1 chipotle canned chile
• 1 ripe avocado
• shredded Mexican cheese or queso fresco
• 1 lime
• 1/2 bunch of cilantro chopped
• 1 cup broken tortilla chips
• Mexican crema or creme fraîche for garnish
• epazote sprigs (optional)

Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil in a medium (4-quart) saucepan over medium-high. Add the onion, garlic and chipotle pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until onions become translucent. Remove the contents of the pan and place into a blender along with the canned tomatoes and its juice. Add the roasted pasilla chile to the blender (Roast the pasilla chile by turning it over an open flame until its aromas fill the kitchen. If you don’t have access to an open flame, toast the pasilla chile on a dry pan over medium heat, pressing it flat for a few seconds then flipping it over and pressing it again). Process all ingredients until pureéd.

Return pan to medium-high heat. When hot, add the pureé and stir constantly until thickened to the consistency of tomato paste (about 6 minutes). Add in chicken broth and epazote sprig (optional). Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt.

Serve soup in bowls and garnish with avocado slices, cheese, tortilla chips, crema, cilantro and fresh squeezed lime juice.

Chef’s Tip
Feel free to incorporate two boneless skinless chicken breasts (shredded) by adding to the pot when chicken stock is poured in.

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Wine Poached Pears

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This sweet white wine poached pear recipe is a perfect dessert or brunch dish for any day of the week. The recipe maximizes the pear's natural sweetness, combining it with a fruit-forward white wine that is highlighted with a touch of cinnamon, vanilla, mascarpone cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds.

 

Wine Poached Pears
By Amelia Ceja
Serves 6
Cook Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

• 3 Bartlett Anjou or Bosc pears
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 vanilla bean
• 1 stick of cinnamon
• 1 of bottle of white wine (750ml)
• 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
• 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
• 1/2 tsp olive oil
• 1 pinch of brown sugar
• 1 pinch of cayenne pepper

Cut pears in half and core them. Pour white wine bottle into a pot along with the sugar, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. Add the cut pears to the pot and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender on a medium-low heat. Remove the pears to a serving dish standing them upright and place in refrigerator. Remove the vanilla bean from pot and continue reducing the wine-based sauce until 1 cup of syrup is left. Place the syrup in a heatproof container and place in the refrigerator until cool, approximately 1 hour.

Mix mascarpone cheese with two tablespoons of pear reduction syrup and spoon into pears. Sprinkle pears with pumpkin seeds that have been toasted on high heat in a small pan with the 1/2 tsp of olive oil, brown sugar and cayenne pepper. Lastly, drip on some of the pear reduction syrup.

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