Erica's Cocina

Lets have some fun making some AWESOME and authentic Mexican Food

Lentil Soup (Sopa de Lentejas) November 19, 2010

It’s a chilly day here in Southern California, so I thought, what better thing to warm me up than a nice bowl of Sopa de Lentejas, or in English, Lentil Soup. There are probably a million different variations to this recipe. But I particulary love this one. Bacon and lentils go sooo well together, they should be married! Growing up, during the winter months we ate tons of soups. I love soups, they have tons of flavors, textures, and they satisfy the most hungry tummies. They are also so easy to play with and  make them your own ;O)

Lately, when I am recipe testing I also read up on the history of whatever dish I am making, if there is one. According to Wikipedia, Lentil Soup was once considered a food for the poor. Hmmm, little did they know that what they were eating was not only economical but is packed with vitamins and minerals. So go ahead, save some money and enjoy a fulfilling bowl of this soup ;O)

 

Lentil Soup (Sopa de Lentejas)

Preparation Time: 10 minutes     Cook Time: 40-50 minutes     Serves: 4-6

 

Ingredients:


2 C. Dry Lentils

8 Slices of Center Cut Bacon

1/2 Onion

1 Garlic Minced

1 Jalapeno

2 Roma Tomatoes or 1 Large Tomato

2 Qt. Veggie or Beef Broth

1/2 Tsp. Cumin Ground

3 Cilantro Sprigs

 

Directions:

First off, you want to sort the lentils. Make sure to remove all debris that might have been left behind during packaging. Next, rinse the lentils under cold water until the water runs clear. Set aside.

Now for the chopping….

Chop the tomato into small dices.

 

Chop the onion into small dices.

 

Cut the bacon into small pieces.

 

Now lets get to cooking :O)

Add bacon to medium heated pot and cook until crisp. Takes about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn. Once nice and crispy, remove and set aside in towels so they can drain. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings. This will give your soup TONS of flavor!

 

To bacon dripping add onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Sauté until onion transparent, 3-5 minutes. To the jalapeño, you want to do two little slits on it. Just enough to break the skin, but not slice through it. This will release the flavor without making it too spicy.

 

Add tomato and sauté until skin starts to loosen up, 3-5 minutes.

 

Add the reserved bacon and lentils. Stir until all ingredients are mixed together.

 

Add broth and cumin. Season to taste with salt if needed. Remember the broth already has salt in it so taste before adding some. I find many times, I don’t need to add salt. Bring to a rolling boil and reduce heat to low. Add cilantro, cover, and cook for 40-50 minutes or until lentils are tender. You will notice the fat from the bacon rise to the top during cooking. I usually remove this with a spoon half way though cooking and at the end. You want to have the bacon flavor but not all the grease ;O)

 

You are now ready to enjoy this delicious bowl of Lentil soup…

Buen Provecho!!!

 

 

Note: As mentioned earlier, there are tons of variations to this soup. You can easily make this a vegetarian dish by omitting the bacon, use olive oil to sauté the ingredients, and use veggie broth. Great add in are carrots, potatoes, celery. Go ahead and play with it. See what you come up with. One word of advise is when adding ingredients, make sure to chop them small. You don’t want them so big that they over power the lentils. Lets not forget, the lentils are the star of this dish ;O)
Advertisements
 

Update! ;O) August 13, 2010

Filed under: Cooking,Cooking Stories — ericascocina @ 1:28 AM
Tags: , , , , ,

It has been over a month since I have posted and I apologize for the lapse…

Sooooo much has happened since my last post, but you better believe I’m going to UPDATE you on every detail!

Two weeks ago, I finished a six-week Condensed Culinary School series at EatzLa in West Hollywood. This course was amazing! It went through the whole shebang. Started with basic knife skills, flavorings/ aromatics, and mother sauces. Working with mother sauces opened my eyes to an array of inspirations for recipe tasting. I will be sure to give you the recipes when I perfect them ;O) Then we moved on to making pizza and pasta from scratch. Let me tell you, after making my own pasta and finding it was not that difficult at all, I do not think I will ever buy packaged pasta again. It was simply amazing! We then moved on to chicken, seafood, beef entrees and sides. I learned about sauces that go well with these proteins and again, I came out with sooo many inspirations for me to work with. One of the coolest things I did was ignite some Cognac to make one of the sauces. Wow, that gave it such wonderful flavor. Although I learned a lot in this series of classes, I was also pleasantly surprised to find that many of the technical skills taught I already used on a regular basis with my cooking. When I first heard the word “searing”, I was not sure what the heck that was. However, when it was demonstrated, I was like, Oh I sear all the time (hahahaha). It also made me realize cooking is one of those things that either you have a niche for it or you do not. Some things just can’t be taught; like properly seasoning. I was amazed on how many people under seasoned their dishes. All in all the class gave me the confidence that I am going in the right direction with my cooking ;O)

Along the way, I also purchased some amazing hardware, a WÜSTHOF Classic Icon Knife! I had tried about three other knives and none of them seemed to “feel right”. Then, she handed me the Classic Icon, it was as if it was custom built for my hand. The curve on the handle was perfect, the weight was exact, and the style was ALL me. The search was over; the decision made in less than 30 seconds. It was destiny ;O)

 

Chiles Rellenos (Stuffed Peppers) July 10, 2010

Chiles Rellenos, translated Stuffed Peppers, always remind me of when my family would get together during lent season. One person would char the peppers, another peel, another make the sauce, another beat the egg whites (we would use a fork to do this so you would really work our your arm, but you can use an electric whisk), etc. We would make tons of them so it was lots of work. Nonetheless, it brought brought us all together which was always a pleasure. Especially my grandmother and I, since we would be the one’s left with doing the  bulk of the work :o) I enjoyed every minute of it. Hope you enjoy making these yourself and create memories of your own. Beauty of this dish is that you can make one for yourself or a dozen for friends and family. FYI, these go really well with my Arroz Blanco ( Mexican White Rice). Buen Provecho!!

Serves: Two          Prep Time: 30 min          Cook Time: 10 min

Ingredients:

2 Chiles pasillas

2 Slices queso cotija

2 Tomatoes

1 Garlic clove

1 Tsp dried oregano

2 Eggs seperate egg white and yolk

Olive oil or Vegetable oil

Salt to personal taste

Directions:

Char peppers on a comal. Place in a plastic bag for 15 min. Remove from bag and peel skin.

Make a small slit on the side of the pepper, remove seeds and insert slice of cheese. Set aside. If you feel like they are going to fall apart you can thread a tooth pick in the slit to hold it together. I normally make a smaller slit but for picture purposes, I made it a little bigger here.

While the peppers are charring (to conserve time), in a small pot add tomatoes and garlic. Fill with enough water to cover the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Boil for 5-10 min uncovered. Add tomatos, salt, and oregano to blender and blend to a smooth puree.

In a mixing bowl, add egg whites and whip until fluffy. Add yolk and whip to blend well. Should be smooth and fluffy.

Ok, time to get cooking. After you get your sauce ready(directions below), your set up should look something like this to make sure the transitions go smoothly with out making too much of a mess.

In a medium heated pan add 1 tbsp of oil. Add onion and sauté onions until transparent. Add toamtoe sauce. Bring to a gentle simmer.

In another medium heated pan, add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Dip both sides of pepper in the egg and  fry for 4 min on each side or until golden brown.

Drain in paper towel and place pepper in the simmering tomato sauce. Once all the peppers are in the pan, let simmer for an additional 10 min to let the flavors marry.

Buen Provecho!!

 

Arroz Blanco (Mexican White Rice) June 12, 2010

This rice will compliment many main dishes perfectly.  It has a delicate buttery flavor that keeps you coming for more. I especially love this rice with Chiles Rellenos. You can also enjoy it with pork chops, carne con chile, chicken, etc, etc. With what ever you chose, I’m certain you’ll fall in love with this recipe.

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp butter

½ C Onion

1 C Rice

2 C Water

1 Tbsp Chicken bouillon

Directions:

Heat up small sauce-pot. Melt butter. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add rice and sauté for another 5 minutes.

Add water and chicken bouillon. Taste and add salt if needed.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes before serving.

This is the final product :O) Yummy in your tummy!


Buen Provecho!!!



 

Tasty Salsa Roja ;O) May 26, 2010

Filed under: Cooking,Salsa — ericascocina @ 7:10 PM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I believe everyone should always have a great tasting salsa in the fridge at all times. After all, you never know when you’ll be craving something spicy! You want to be prepared. This salsa recipe is very tasty and super easy to make. Give it a try, I’m sure you’ll love it!

Salsa Rojo (Red Salsa)

Ingredients:

2 Tomatoes

1 Jalapeño

1 Garlic clove

¼ of an onion

Small bunch of cilantro

Salt to personal taste

Directions:

On a comal roast tomatoes, jalapeno, and garlic until charred.

Add to blender onion, cilantro, tomatoes, jalapeno, garlic, and salt. Pulse on puree 2-3 times. You want it to be a little chunky.

That is it, you’re allll done.

Buen Provecho!!

 

Caldo de Camarón (Shrimp Soup) April 9, 2010

I love Caldo de Camarón, or shrimp soup in English ;0) This is one of those dishes that my family and I usually make during the Lent season and in the winter time. It is made with tons of veggies so not only is it delicious but it is also good for you. Another plus is that it doesn’t take too much time to make so you can enjoy anytime of the year.

Cooking Time: 30-35 minutes     Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

5 C. Water

3 Carrots

¼ C. Onion

1 Chayote

5 Celery Sticks

2 Potatoes

1 Calabacita (Italian Squash)

1 Tomato

1-8oz Can of El Pato Sauce (or other spicy sauce)

1-16oz Can of Garbanzo Beans

1/3 C. Chopped Cilantro

1½ lbs. Large Shrimp

Directions:

Chop carrots, onion, chayote, celery, calabacitas, tomato, and potatoes into small dices. Set aside. Chop cilantro and set aside. Open can of garbanzo beans. Drain, remove skin, and rinse. Set aside.

In a pot, add water and salt to personal taste. Let boil. Add carrots, onion, chayote, and celery. Bring to boil. Let boil for 10 minutes.

Add potatoes, calabacitas, tomato, garbanzo beans, El Pato sauce, and cilantro. Taste. Add more salt if needed. Bring to boil. Boil for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are cooked. Add shrimp and taste again. Add more salt if needed. Bring to broil. Boil for 3 minutes and remove from heat.

Serve while hot with slices of lime on the side.

Buen Provecho!!

Note: If you do not want the soup to be spicy, just add a can of tomato sauce instead. Also, if chayote cannot be found in your local market then you can just use the calabacitas and vice versa. But use 2 instead of 1.

 

Cuaresma (Lent) April 5, 2010

Filed under: Cooking — ericascocina @ 9:47 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Lent season is over…

Coming from a Catholic family, La Cuaresma is something my family has always practiced. It begins on Ash Wednesday and continues until Sabado de Gloria, the day before Easter Sunday.

Growing up, every Friday after Ash Wednesday up until the last Friday before Easter Sunday, we did not eat red meat. On these days, I remember savoring calabasitas, nopalitos, shrimp soup, shrimp cocktails, tortas de camaron, chiles rellenos, etc… the list goes on and on. Then on Easter Sunday, we would get dressed up to the nine’s, go to church, and get together with all the cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents (yes, I have a big familia). Then the huge feast began, usually consisting of carne asada with endless side dishes. We would stuff ourselves silly, making up for all the meat we missed out on the previous Fridays ;O) The grown-ups, would hide what seemed like a million Easter eggs for us and we would run around like bunnies with our little baskets searching for our treats. We had so many eggs, I remember finding them a month after Easter while playing outside. One of my aunts would hide the, “Golden Egg”, which always had some dinero inside of it ;O) To date, that same “Golden Egg” is used every Easter. Ahhh, good times…

Sooo, keep an eye out for my wonderful Cuaresma recipes coming over the next couple of weeks. The dishes I will be sharing with you consist of lots of veggies and seafood. You never know… One might come out tomorrow ;O)

 

 
%d bloggers like this: