Monday, April 30, 2012

Salsa and Cheese Sopes

I had heard of sopes before but hadn't tried them and weren't quite sure exactly what they were.  Now I know that they are little masa "boats" or cups that are pretty much made from corn tortilla dough and filled with any kind of Mexican filling you'd like.  I made these on a whim and hadn't done any sope googling, I did that after I made these, just to see if mine looked like what they are supposed to look like, well, after looking at the google image sopes page I've come to the conclusion that I did some major skimping on the filling! These are supposed to be stuffed to the brim with yummy fillings and I barely put anything in them...oh-well! They were still delicious and now that I know better I will make a very well stuffed sope next time I make them :)

Perfectly Simple Sopes (Masa Boats)
Sopes Sencillos
adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexico One Plate at a Time

1 and 3/4 cups powdered masa harina mixed with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
About 1/2 cup chopped white onion (I left this off, not an onion fan)
Vegetable oil for the griddle
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
about 3/4 cup salsa (I used Rick's Roasted Tomato and Jalapeno Salsa, recipe below)

about 1/3 cup grated Mexican gueso anejo or other dry grating cheese such as romano or parmesan (I used Cotija, a Mexican grating cheese that I had never tried before this, it is delicious!) About 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Forming and griddle-baking the sopes. Heat a well seasoned or nonstick griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat. Put the masa (fresh or reconstituted) into a bowl and knead in 3/4 teaspoon salt. If necessary, knead in a few drops of water to give the masa the consistency of soft cookie dough. Divide into 16 pieces, roll into balls and cover with plastic to keep them from drying out.

One by one, form the fat little tortillas that will become the sopes: Line a tortilla press with two pieces of plastic cut to fit the plates (to be on the safe side, cut them from a food storage bag; the thicker plastic usually works better for beginners). Gently press out a flattened ball of dough between the sheets of plastic to about 3 and 1/2 inches in diameter (it should be a little less than 1/4 inch thick). Peel off the top sheet of plastic, flip the fat little tortilla - uncovered side down - onto the fingers of one hand and then gently peel off the second piece of plastic. In one flowing movement, roll the tortilla off your hand and onto the heated griddle or skillet. After about 1 and 1/2 minutes, when the tortilla has loosened itself from the cooking surface and is lightly browned, flip it and cook for another minute or so - this cooking is just to set and brown the surface of the tortilla but not to cook the masa all the way through. While the first tortilla is cooking, continue pressing out others and adding them to the griddle or skillet; just be careful not to leave them on so long that they cook through.

Remove each lightly browned tortilla to a plate. Cool just until handleable, then use your thumb and index finger to pinch up a masa border about 1/2 inch high around then edge of the tortilla - in doing this you are transforming the fat little tortilla into a sope, a little masa boat. Press out the center to uniformly flatten it. Cool the sopes, then cover them with plastic to keep them from drying out. 

2. Finishing the sopes. In a strainer, rinse the onion under cold water, then shake off the excess moisture. Set out the remaining ingredients near the griddle. Heavily oil the skillet or griddle (my 12 inch griddle takes about 1/4 cup to oil it properly) and heat over medium. Fill the griddle with a single uncrowded layers of sopes, flat side down, then brush each one with oil. Spoon about 1/2 tablespoon salsa into each sope, then sprinkle with a little chopped onion, grated cheese and chopped cilantro. Leave on the heat until the bottoms of the sopes begin to crisp and the salsa is warm, 1 to 1 and 1/2 minutes . (You may see the salsa boiling around the edges.) Serve on a warm plate or a wooden board without a moment's hesitation - your guests will love biting into this simple perfection. 


These were really delicious! I'm sure I'll be making sopes often and filling them to the brim with yummy cheese and maybe beans and salsa.  I made half of these with just cheese for the kids since the salsa was quite spicy.  The other plate I made I brought out to the living room for my husband and I to snack on and went back to the kitchen to pass out some to the kids, well by the time I got back picky husband had finished off the whole plate of these!  At first he was a little apprehensive since he doesn't like to try new things but he really liked these.  He is a corn tortilla fan and these had that nice toasty corn scent and flavor so I kind of thought these would be a big hit and they were :)

Here is the recipe for the salsa I made to go with these...

Roasted Jalapeno Tomato Salsa with Cilantro
Rick Bayless - Salsas that Cook
5 cups salsa

3 pounds ripe tomatoes
4-6 jalapeno chiles, stemmed
1 small white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup water (I did not add this, the salsa was plenty fluid without extra water)
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 generous teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1. Heat the broiler. Lay the whole tomatoes and jalapenos out on a broiler pan or baking sheet. Set the pan 4 inches below the broiler and broil for about 6 minutes, until darkly roasted - even blackened in spots - on one side.  With a pair of tongs, flip over the tomatoes and chiles and roast the other side for another 6 minutes or so. The goal is not simply to char the tomatoes and chiles but the cook them through while developing nice roasty flavors. Set aside to cool.

2. Turn the oven down to 425 degrees. Separate the onions into rings. On a similar pan or baking sheet, combine the onion and garlic. Roast in the oven, stirring carefully every couple of minutes, until the onions are beautifully browned and wilted (even have a touch of char on some of the edges) and the garlic is soft and browned in spots, about 15 minutes total. Cool to room temperature.

3. In a food processor, pulse the jalapenos (no need to peel or seed them) with the onion and garlic until moderately finely chopped, scraping everything down with a spatula as needed to keep it all moving around. Scoop into a big bowl. Without washing the processor, coarsely puree the tomatoes - with all the juice that has accumulated around them - and add them to the bowl. Stir in enough water to give the salsa an easily spoonable consistency. Stir in the cilantro.  I just processed it all together.

4. Taste and season with salt and vinegar, remembering that this condiment should be a little feisty in its seasoning. If you're planning to use your salsa right away, simply pour into a bowl and it's ready, or refrigerate it covered and use within 5 days.  


The salsa was pretty yummy and very spicy. Picky husband liked it, yay! It was too spicy for the kids.  My only personal thing was not liking the onion, but I know most people like onions so that's my problem :) I think from now on I will leave the onion out unless it gets completely pureed or just use onion powder.  The sopes were awesome and I'm so glad I now know what they are and will be making them often. They were fun to make and were my first time using my new cast iron tortilla press, I've wanted one of those for years and finally got one since IHCC will be cooking Mexican for the next few months! Yum!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

I made these enchiladas for I Heart Cooking Clubs theme of the week, From the Earth. This recipe has 10 goodies from the earth (tomatillos, onions, garlic, jalapenos, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, zucchini, counting the corn in the tortillas and the cilantro), not to mention the cheese and cream from our bovine friends, so I thought it would be the perfect pick this week. This is probably the most in depth Mexican recipe I've ever made.  It was something totally new to me since I'd never cooked with tomatillos before and wasn't quite sure what to expect.  I was pleasantly surprised, and enjoyed this dish very much! I'm sure I'll be buying many more tomatillos as we cook through Rick Bayless recipes for the next few months.

Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas with Creamy Tomatillo Sauce and Melted Cheese
Rick Bayless -- Fiesta at Rick's

1 lb. (6 to 8) tomatillos, husked and rinsed (thank you Whole Foods, for being the only place to have tomatillos in a 100 mile radius of my house)
1 medium white onion, sliced about ¼ in. thick (even though I don't like onions I did use them in this sauce since I knew they would be pureed)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
Hot green chiles to taste (2 to 3 serranos, or 1 to 2 jalapeños), stemmed
1 1/2 tbs. vegetable oil, plus extra for vegetables and tortillas
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth, plus a little extra if needed
1/2 cup Mexican crema, crème fraîche, or heavy whipping cream
8 cups cubed vegetables (about 1/2-in.) -- I used sweet potatoes, parsnips, zucchini, and carrots
12 corn tortillas
2/3 cup shredded Mexican cheese like asadero, or Monterey Jack or cheddar
Sliced white onion rings, for garnish
Fresh cilantro sprigs, for garnish (not in the photo but I did use it :) )

Roast tomatillos, sliced onion, garlic, and chiles on rimmed baking sheet 4 in. below preheated broiler until tomatillos are soft and blackened in spots on one side, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn vegetables over; broil about 4 minutes longer. Remove and reduce oven temperature to 400°F.

Scrape tomatillo mixture into food processor or blender. Process until smooth purée. Heat 11/2 tbs. oil in medium-large pot over medium-high heat. When drop of purée sizzles in oil, add remainder of purée. Stir constantly for several minutes until darker and thicker. Add broth and crema, reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Spread cubed vegetables on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt, and mix to coat evenly. Place in oven and roast, turning vegetables regularly, until crunchy-tender, about 25 minutes (reduce roasting time for broccoli and other green vegetables by 5 to 10 minutes).

If sauce has thickened and is no longer consistency of light cream soup, stir in a little more broth (or water). Taste and season with salt, about 1 tsp. Lightly brush both sides of each tortilla with oil. Stack, wrap in damp paper towels, and microwave on high (100%) for 1 minute to warm and soften.

Spread about 1 cup sauce over bottom of 13-by-9-in. baking dish. I got out my  cast iron fajita pans and made individual plates of three enchiladas, this is how it is served in the book. Working quickly, roll equal portion of roasted vegetables into each tortilla while tortillas are still hot and pliable. Place them side by side in baking dish.

Douse evenly with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake until enchiladas are heated through and cheese begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Garnish with onion rings and cilantro sprigs. Serves 4 to 6.


These were fun to make, I viewed it more of a project recipe, this is not something I'd say to try for a quick weeknight meal, but if you have a few hours of free time in the kitchen to play around with, this was a nice cooking experience.  I made these along side traditional American tacos for the rest of my family since I knew they would not be that interested in trying this.  The kids had a bite of it but did not like it, picky husband was of course a no go since he is not a vegetable fan. It has a neat flavor and everything meshes together really well.  This is like something I'd order at a high end Mexican restaurant.  I made only one serving at a time and just put everything else back in the fridge in individual containers and enjoyed this meal quite a few times over the week (only had to assemble and bake) since I was the only one eating it. If you like veggies and want to try something new (or already love tomatillos or have some adventurous eaters at your table) I would definitely recommend giving this recipe a try! I would make it again for sure, there are so many veggie combinations that sound like they would be delicious in these enchiladas, and it is always more fun to eat off of a fajita skillet :)   

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Guacamole Sampler

I love avocados but guacamole for me is hit or miss. Sometimes it has just too many indiscernible add-ins for my liking. I was excited to try some of Rick Bayless's guacamole recipes, he has so many varieties to choose from.  I thought I would start with the basics and try two of the three recipes for Guacamole Three Ways from his book Mexican Everyday; Simple Guacamole which can then be turned into Herby Guacamole.

Simple Guacamole
Rick Bayless -- Mexican Everyday
makes 1 and 1/4 to 1 and 1/2 cups

2 medium ripe avocados
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped or crushed through a garlic press

To make it herby, add:
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
About 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Cut the avocados in half, running your knife around the pit from stem to blossom end and back up again. Twist the halves in opposite directions to free the pit, and pull the halves apart. Dislodge the pit, then scoop the avocado flesh into a medium bowl.

Mash the avocado with a large fork or potato masher. Stir in the garlic and about 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus any other sets of ingredients you've chosen. Taste and season with additional salt if appropriate. If not using immediately cover with plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface of the guacamole and refrigerate - preferably for no more than a few hours.


I made these guacamoles for a quick lunch for my four year old and myself one day while my other two kids were at school and picky husband was at work. Picky husband does not like avocado and has never wanted to try guacamole.  If it comes with his dish at Mexican restaurants he always passes it on to me :)

The simple guacamole was my favorite. To me it was the best guacamole ever, since it was such a nice pure avocado taste. The herby guacamole was nice too but I liked the simple one better. My four year old liked them both equally and we both enjoyed this nice little lunch snack. I'm looking forward to trying some of Rick's other guacamole variations as we cook his recipes with I Heart Cooking Clubs for the next six months.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sesame Street Waffles

This is our family favorite waffle recipe, and trust me, I've tried a ton!  I've been making these for about two years and have adapted and scaled the recipe for our family of five (with usually a few leftover waffles the kids like for weekday breakfasts).  I heard about these all over the internet and finally found the original recipe, Waffle of Insane Greatness, at foodnetwork.  It is scaled down from a restaurant version for home use.  I have a few waffle makers and have them all heating up at once so I can make a big batch quickly for my hungry family.

The kids love fun shaped waffles, like these Elmo and Cookie Monster Waffles.  I have to admit I'm a sucker for shaped waffles too, they are just so much fun! I've had the Sesame Street waffle maker since my kids were babies and it has proven to be very useful.  They are pretty much out of the Sesame Street years (they are almost 7, 6, and almost 5 -- sniffle, sniffle) but they still get excited about Elmo and Cookie Monster on a waffle :)

My husband on the other hand will only eat a big, thick, crispy outside, soft and fluffy inside Belgian I have to have the Belgian waffle maker heating up for him.   I like waffles any way you make them just about, and am not nearly as picky about them as picky husband.  I tend to like mine a little softer than picky husband.  

Family Favorite Waffles
adapted from foodnetwork
makes about 6-8 servings, depending on the size of your waffle maker

2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups buttermilk
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar (you can use less but don't use more or it will stick in your iron)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional, but I love it)

Whisk together all dry ingredients.  Add in wet ingredients and whisk together until well blended, it may be a touch lumpy but most of the big lumps should be broken up. Let batter sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.  After 15 minutes, plug in and heat up waffle maker.   Pour batter into ungreased and unsprayed waffle maker and cook following manufacturers directions.

Wait a few minutes at least, until it stops steaming. If you do not "know" you waffle maker you will need to find out the perfect time to pull out to waffles to your liking. Don't open too early or it will be a big stuck on sticky mess.  Don't wait too long or they will be hard and too dark.  This all is so variable to your specific waffle maker, so expect to have a few mess-ups before you get to know your maker.  One of my favorite things about this recipe is that you do not grease or spray the waffle maker with cooking spray, which I used to always have to do. This provides a nice and crispy exterior with a fluffy interior.


If you give these a try I hope you enjoy them as much as my family does.  They are kind of waffle snobs and this one is really enjoyed by everyone. Make sure to serve these warm (if you are making a big batch, for best taste serve them ASAP after they come off the iron) with butter and lots of Grade B maple syrup. Grade B is thicker than the Grade A that you can get at most supermarkets and has a more intense maple flavor. If you are a maple syrup fan once you try Grade B you will never go back.  Happy waffle making :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Almond Joy Tartlets

I made these a while ago for Club: BAKED and fell in love with these little tartlets! I was too busy to post about them when the group baked them, but I couldn't just leave the pictures in my "Cooking Photos" folder any longer so here they are...honestly the are one of the best things I've ever tasted. But, I am a huge coconut fan and love Almond Joy candies (I never buy them though, but, when Halloween rolls around, you can bet these are the first things I request from my kids :) )

Almond Joy Tart

Baked: Explorations
For the Almond Tart Dough
1 large egg1/4 cup whole toasted almonds
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ( 1 stick ) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

For the Coconut Filling
8 ounces good quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut ( if you are coconut obsessed, go ahead and use 2 1/4 cups) -- I did
1 tablespoon light rum (I used Whaler's Killer Coconut Rum, love this stuff, very mellow with lots of coconut flavor)

For the Chocolate Glaze and Garnish
2 ounces good quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 ounces good quality dark chocolate ( 60-72% ), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 whole toasted almonds (I just added sliced almonds to the top)

Make the Almond Tart Dough

In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg and set it aside.

Put the almonds and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the almonds are finely ground. Add flour and salt and pulse again just until mixed. Add the butter and pulse until sandy ( about 6 to 10 quick pulses). Pour in the egg and pulse just until the dough begins to cohere into a ball. Form the dough into a disk, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Make the Coconut Cream Filling

Place the white chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl.

In a small saucepan set over medium heat, heat the cream just to a boil. Pour it over the white chocolate and let it stand for 30 seconds. Slowly, starting in the center of the bowl, whisk the cream and white chocolate until smooth. Cover and refrigerate the ganache for 4 hours or overnight before proceeding.

Assemble the Tart

Dust a work surface with flour. Place the disk of chilled dough on the work surface and divide it into 6 equal portions. Shape each into a smooth disk. (Note: The dough will be sticky. Make sure to turn it with a bench knife or offset spatula as needed and keep the working surface floured.) Use a rolling pin to roll each piece of dough into a 5 1/2 inch circle just over 1/8 inch thick. Very gently press each dough round into a 4 inch tart pan with removable bottom.

Place the tart pans in the freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Line the tart crusts with aluminum foil, and fill each one three-quarters full with pie weights or dried beans. Bake them for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and weights and bake for another 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Transfer the tart pans to a wire rack to cool. (I had some shrinkage problems because I didn't use pie weights, I would say for this recipe they are worth the extra effort, but if you don't care if you have a shrunken crust, don't worry about it :) )

Make the Coconut Cream Filling

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the white chocolate ganache at medium speed until soft peaks form. Do not over whip. Gently fold in the coconut and the rum. Divide the filling evenly among the cooled tart shells and place them in the refrigerator while you make the chocolate glaze.
Make the Chocolate Glaze

Place the milk and dark chocolates in a medium heatproof bowl.

In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream until it is just about to boil. Pour it over the chocolates and whisk to combine. Let the mixture set for about 10 minutes. Remove the tarts from the refrigerator and spoon the glaze evenly over each one. Top each tart with one almond and refrigerate again until the glaze sets up, about 10 minutes.

The tarts can be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.


Like I said earlier, these were one of the most delicious things I've ever had or made. They are that good if you are a coconut fan.  Thanks to Linda at Sassy Is Baking for hosting this back in December 2011.  I am wishing I had these all over again, such delicious and decadent treat for any coconut fan!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mexican Rosettes

The theme over at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week is Sweet Tooth, so here is some sweetness for ya...Mexican Rosettes! This recipe is from Rick Bayless's book Fiesta at Rick's and it titled Light-as-Air Rosette Pastries / Bunuelos de Viento in the book. I was surprised to see this recipe in Rick's book because I had always thought of Rosettes as a Scandinavian treat, not realizing they were also popular in Mexico.

I love rosettes. The irons are a novelty to me and I enjoy the different shapes and sizes. I have 12 of them currently. My most recent rosette iron purchase was a dinosaur shaped rosette iron. I decided to give it a go with Rick's recipe, along with a few other shapes. Now I have to warn you that if you are looking to make dinosaur rosettes, this is not an easy task. Rosettes are tricky as is, and this dinosaur one was quite the challenge. When I bought it I thought, oh, my kids like dinosaurs, this will be a fun shape to make for them. Well, my visions of a tray of cute little dino rosettes with green sugar sprinkles quickly went out the window when I started using this one since it is just a really tough shape to do and the screw in point is off centered making it extra awkward to use.


I did succeed at a few of these, out of about 10 tries I got 3 good ones, since I have three kids I thought I'd stop myself right at 3 dinos and move on to other easier to make shapes.

Light-as-Air Rosette Pastries
adapted from Rick Bayless -- Fiesta at Rick's

3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons anise seed (I used two whole star anise since I have a whole bunch of it)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon sweet sherry
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Powdered sugar, for sprinkling
I made a powdered sugar/milk glaze to dip them in and added sprinkles

1. Flavor the milk. In a small saucepan, combine the milk, anise seed, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, swirling the pan to dissolve the sugar completely. Simmer 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and cool to lukewarm, about 5 minutes. Strain into a measuring cup; discard all but 1/2 cup.

2. Finish the batter. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and sherry until frothy, then whisk in the lukewarm milk, then the flour. Whisk just until combined, not until foamy.

3. Fry the bunuelos. In a heavy deep skillet or shallow saucepan, heat at least 1 and 1/2 inches of oil over medium until it reaches 365 degrees. (I used my electric skillet with temperature control dial.) Dip a rosette iron in the hot oil for half a minute or so to heat it (American-made cast aluminum ones heat much quicker than the rolled metal Mexican ones), then remove, shaking as much oil as possible back into the pan. Dip the iron into the batter, making sure to leave the top 1/8 inch uncoated so that you'll be able to slip the fried pastry from the mold. Remove the mold from the batter and immediately lower it into the hot oil. Fry until crisp, about 50 seconds. While it's still submerged, gently tap the iron to release the pastry. Remove the iron. Let the pastry bob about in the oil for another 10 seconds to ensure that it is completely crisp and golden. Remove and lay the bunuelo upside down on paper towels to drain. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with powdered sugar and you're ready to serve.


I did not grow up with rosettes, I know some people have grandmas and moms that make them every year for the holidays and I bet that is a wonderful way to learn the tricks to these since they are a tricky treat to make.  I've found that after heating up the iron in the oil, once you dip it into the batter leave it there for 10 seconds sizzling to make sure the batter has adhered to the mold. I had a few slip right back into the batter as I was pulling out the mold after dipping if I did not wait long enough.

If anyone has any rosette tips please let me know!  I think they are a fun cooking activity and hope to get better making them. It seems like every time I pull them out to make them I am a little intimidated with good reason, but I would love for these to become a family tradition so I keep trying...

I made a quick glaze with powdered sugar and a teaspoon or two of milk and then dipped them into the glaze and quickly shook nonpareil sprinkles over the top.  These brightly colored sprinkles always make me think of cookies from a Mexican bakery.  Can't wait to share these with my family, it's been about a year since I pulled out the rosette irons, so they are in for a treat :)  

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