La Gringa Cooks, Chorizo, Chard and Potato Chowder

Just a couple of Baja beach dogs enjoying the sunset, Biscuit, my Lhasapoo and his best poodle friend Moxy Mayham.

I’m growing organic Swiss chard on my deck in pots. Chard is a fast growing nutritious green vegetable that loves the Baja climate. It grew from seed to harvest in 4 weeks.


I planted Thai basil, parsley, oregano, chives, arugula, mesclun, two types of mint, rosemary, lovage and lavender. The herbs are always fresh and I know that they are organic. This garden is a definite Baja success.

Here’s a simple chowder made with readily available Mexican chorizo (Italian sausage would be a close substitution), potatoes, Swiss chard or spinach, chicken stock and a touch of cream. It’s a spicy re-creation of Zuppa Tuscana Soup. You can substitute any legume for a vegetarian meal but you’ll need to add red pepper and paprika to mimic the chorizo flare.
I’m taking my soup to Fiesta Friday where you can find more delicious recipes.

Chorizo, Chard and Potato Chowder

Ingredients:
4 ounces chorizo
2 medium potatoes, any variety, diced
1/2 chopped onion
4 cups chicken stock, unsalted
3 cups chopped fresh Swiss chard
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup la crema, or half and half

Preparation:
Brown chorizo, drain off the majority of grease. Add onion and sauté until opaque. Add chicken stock and potatoes. Boil 15 minutes until potatoes are soft. Add chard and cilantro, return to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in cream and serve with fresh bread or tortillas.

 

La Gringa Weekly Menu and Lemon Thyme Roasted Chicken

Meal planning is a critical step in healthy eating. As I have said, I buy fresh produce from the outdoor market and I design our meals around the fruits and vegetables by adding proteins like chicken, fish, legumes and lean beef. Here is a real weekly menu with references for recipes I have written or I am interested in making from the web. I will post my flips and flops as the weeks progress. I hope you enjoy seeing how La Gringa and El Gringo really eat on the Baja.
For more delicious recipes check on Fiesta Friday.
La Gringa Cooks

 

I paid approximately $25 US for this produce, a huge whole chicken and 2 kilograms of shrimp.


Recipe locations:
Tequila Lime Shrimp:

Stuffed Baja Peppers

Chorizo Swiss Chard Soup: Loosely adapted from Zuppa Toscana I substitute Swiss chard for kale and chorizo for sausage. It is delicious but doesn’t photograph well.

Jalapeño Poppers

Asian Red Snapper: Coming soon to WhatsforDinnerDoc.com

Lemon, Thyme and Rosemary Roasted Chicken Recipe:

Rub a fresh whole chicken with butter, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, lemon juice and 2 gloves of garlic. Stuff with lemon and onion quarters. Bake at 350 for 1 1/2 to 2 hours with cubed carrots, potatoes and leeks.

I’m so proud of myself for buying this chicken at the open air market. The feet were free! Yeah me.

Snacks and lunch ideas:
Cut up melon and pineapple.
Apple slices with peanut or almond butter
Hummus with carrot and jicama slices. There are no canned chickpeas in Loreto so I cook them from dried beans and store them in smaller portions for sales or hummus. I cook pinto beans every week for quick side dishes, salads, or re-fried beans.
Quesadillas with leftover chicken and salsa
Leftover soup
Leftover cold shrimp over salad
Chicken salad with salsa and mayo

Baja Stuffed Peppers

image

What inspires your cooking?
Smells, colors, freshness, memories, blog posts, magazine photos?
I’m inspired by all of these things and my weekly menu is designed around the freshest ingredients that I can find. This is a weeks worth of produce which costs me between $8-12 US depending on how much fruit I buy. Fruit is relatively expensive here because most of it has to travel farther than local vegetables. Mexico does grow a large amount of citrus, melons and tropical fruits which are available year round but I often splurge on American apples and pears which are expensive by Mexican standards. Apples can cost $1.50 each. Gasp. A huge cabbage costs about $.50 in comparison.

I buy produce at our outdoor market every Sunday and meat in town from a local grocery store or from the butcher. I confess that buying the meats on display on tables at the open air market makes my “food safety” radar go on high alert. I do realize that our local restaurants buy meat there, I’ve seen my favorite chef actually choosing meats, but I haven’t been able to get past the flys and feral dogs hovering about. I’m failing at complete Mexican cooking immersion but I’m sure there will be a blog post on the day that I give in.

This stuffed pepper recipe was inspired by these beautiful striped bell peppers. I choose the vegetables, add my aromatics, pick a cuisine or a combination of cuisines, add a protein source and start to design the dish.

Baja Stuffed Peppers

Mix and Match Ingredients for 4 servings:

4 bell peppers, any color
1 pound ground beef, chicken, turkey or pork. Vegans substitute legumes, tofu, nuts.
1/2 cup cooked “grains” quinoa, rice, bulgar. I used quinoa
1/2 cup diced onion
2 gloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cup chopped vegetables, I used carrots, tomatoes, and zucchini.
1/2 finely chopped chili pepper, serrano, poblano, jalepeno for heat
1/2 cup tomatoe sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs. I used flat leaf parsley, lovage and oregano. Cilantro or basil would be great too.
1 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation:

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil. Add lean protein and brown. Add remaining herbs, vegetables and seasonings. Simmer until vegetables are soft but still hold their shape.
Slice off the top of each pepper and remove seeds. Stuff peppers with meat mixture and replace the tops. I use any remaking meat mixture to pack around the peppers in a casserole dish to hold them upright.

Bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees until peppers are soft.
Serve with salsa, sour cream, more veggies (sautéed beet greens) and fruit.

image

 

Make Mine a Guinness

A bit of St. Patrick’s Day fun.

What's On Your Mind, Doc?

Pegman took a stroll around my favorite city, Dublin, and despite the beautiful and historically significant sites, the stick man found a Corona Light billboard. I try to be culturally sensitive but light beer in Ireland?

Ridiculous!

I will not drink Corona, not with my feet in sand, not with pesos in my hand. I will not drink it any time. Not even with a bright key lime.

That being said, join me for a pint and some flash fiction with Pegman.
Make Mine A Guinness
by T. Delaplain

“Gimme a pint Paddy.”
“I’ll build it for ya Mick, let me get rid of the Yank drinking Mexican horse piss, kids today wouldn’t know their Guinness from their Smithwick.”
“No rush, herself is at a hen party for Mrs. Shea tonight. I told the Mrs. she was too old to be chasing the craic. Not the proper thing at…

View original post 148 more words

Mexican Yellowtail Poke

I’m so glad that my husband, El Gringo, can find the time in his busy retirement schedule to catch our dinner from the Sea of Cortez. He has to leave the house at 5 am to catch bait and then has to spend the day with his buddies catching red snapper, yellowtail amber jack, cabrilla and pinto bass. It’s a sacrifice, I know. His only rewards are a couple of cold cervezas, a good time and oh by the way a few weeks of delicious fresh fish meals.

When the boat comes in, it is imperitive to make La Gringa’s version of Hawaiian poke. I use the yellowtail which is a close cousin of tuna and add my own spin with Serrano chili, wakame and sweet Mexican white onion. You can eat this with a spoon but we prefer to serve it with tostada chips and a dab of wasabi on the side. Delish.
I’m taking my poke to Fiesta Friday. Follow the bread crumbs for more delicious recipes. Our co-hosts are Sarah and Liz.

One word of caution, the bigger predatory fish like tuna, red snapper and cabrilla do have some mercury contamination so I limit our big fish meals to twice per month. You could make this poke with fresh Alaskan salmon for a safer substitute but the salmon aren’t swimming in The Baja, although the humpback and blue whales travel from the North to calve and winter in the neighborhood.

Mexican Yellowtail Poke

Ingredients:
1 lb fresh yellowtail or tuna, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced Serrano chili or to taste
1 tablespoon reconstituted and chopped wakame seaweed (optional)
1 tablespoon black and or white toasted sesame seeds
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Juice of 1 key lime or 1 tablespoon of lime juice

Instructions:
Prepare fish and set aside. Mix remaining ingredients. Combine fish with marinade when you are ready to serve and not a minute sooner. You do not want the fish to be cooked in the lime juice. Serve with tortilla chips fir a Mexicana flare or crackers. Wasabi on the side is a nice touch for the sushi lovers in the crowd.
I serve this as an appetizer accompanied by cold cerveza, a margarita or a fruity vino blanco.

Savor every bite.

Quinoa Tabbouleh With a Poblano and Lime Twist

I love Sunday Market days in Miramar. My menus are inspired by the freshest ingredients. I planted herbs on my deck and the landscaper assures me that the plants and soil are organic. Call me a skeptic but I’m guessing my herb garden would not get the organic seal of approval in the states. I have learned to accept that I eat more pesticides in Mexico than I do in the U.S. but at least I’m in charge of what goes on my herbs after they are planted. This recipe showcases my fresh parsley and mint. The tomatoes are readily available and vine ripened so I can enjoy them year round.

Quinoa is available in our larger supermarkets and in specialty shops that cater to expats. The price is equivalent to U.S. prices which means it is ridiculously expensive by Mexican standards. Quinoa has more protein and nutritional value than bulgar and it’s easier to find, thus the quinoa in this tabbouleh. Lemons are difficult to impossible to find here so I often substitute key lime juice for lemon juice.
I added poblano peppers for a mild spicy kick and a Mexican flare. This salad is a superfood power house.

Enjoy with homemade hummus and tortillas in a vegan wrap or as a side dish for grilled chicken or fish.

Savor every bite.

I’m late for the party but I’m taking my salad to Fiesta Friday where you can find more delicious recipes.
This week’s co-hosts are Zeba and Jhuls.

image

 

Quinoa Tabboleah With a Poblano and Lime Twist

INGREDIENTS

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large cucumber cut into 1/4″ pieces
2 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
2/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped poblano pepper

PREPARATION

Bring quinoa, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Meanwhile, whisk lime juice and garlic in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
Let quinoa cool and transfer to a large bowl; mix in 1/4 cup dressing.
Add cucumber, tomatoes, herbs, and scallions to bowl with quinoa; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss gently with the remaining dressing.
image image image

Crispy Panko Jalapeño Peppers

jalapeño poppers

We rarely eat American bar food when we are in the States but who doesn’t love a deep fried jalapeño popper? Sometimes a greasy appetizer and a cold beer just hit the spot.

This is a BBQ version of poppers made crispy with a Panko topping instead of deep frying. These are not picante if you remove the seeds and ribs. Leave some ribs if you like it hot! The recipe showcases the ubiquitous jalapeño peppers and cheeses of Mexico. There are limited varieties of cheeses available in rural Mexico so I have learned to work with the substitutions and the results can be delicious. I do worry a little about buying raw goat milk cheeses from the open air market where I buy all of my produce. There is always a chance of bacterial contamination when consuming unpasteurized dairy products. As a precaution, if you are pregnant, I would advice against eating local raw milk cheeses. The freshest cheeses can be purchased directly from the local goat ranchers and you can see the adorable baby goats while you’re visiting.
I’m taking my appetizer to Fiesta Friday.

 

Crispy Panko Jalapeño Poppers
Servings: 24 poppers

Ingredients:
• 12 jalapeño peppers, cut in half lengthwise. Seeds and ribs removed
• 8 oz quéso crema (cream cheese), let soften on the counter for 15 minutes.
• 1/2 cup shredded Chihuahua or Queso de Oaxaca (I found cheddar cheese at a specialty deli but it isn’t widely available)
• 2 tablespoons of crispy tocino (bacon)
1 1/4 cup Panko
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Variations: Mix in 1/4 cup green onions chopped or chopped cilantro or minced sweet red pepper. Substitute chorizo for the bacon or leave out the meat for a vegetarian appetizer. If Panko is not available substitute dried bread crumbs.

Directions
1. Wash and slice peppers. Use gloves to keep your hands from burning. Leave 1/2 of the stem attached to each piece. Remove seeds and ribs.
2. Mix remaining ingredients with a fork until combined.
3. Fill each half pepper with a heaping spoonful of cheese mixture. Mix panko and olive oil and top each pepper with a scant tablespoon of the mixture.
4. Grill in the barbecue on medium heat until peppers are soft, slightly blackened and the Panko is crisp. If your barbecue has a broiler element then you can quickly broil the peppers for a more crispy topping. Watch closely and don’t burn them.

image

La Gringa Cooks: Flips & Flops, Grilled Sweet Potatoes and Peppers

image

FLIPS & FLOPS

I’m sure you noticed the new header on What’s for dinner, Doc? Who can resist a pelican? My new series La Grinda Cooks became La Gringa Cooks: Flips & Flops from Baja, Mexico. The title speaks for itself but the idea for the flips & flops came while standing in my kitchen dressed in my kitchen uniform, shorts and you guessed it, flip-flops. Dreaming and waiting for my fresh pepper cheese to form lovely curds and whey, I caught a glimpse of the Sea of Cortez. Ok, to be fair it’s a sliver of blue ocean, if I stand on tip toes and tilt my head at a 45 degree angle south 😎. Anyway I waited and waited and waited. No beautiful curds, no clear whey, just a mess of salted acidic milk.

A Major FLOP. I have had other flops while trying to adapt my culinary skills to the climate, ingredients and flair of Mexican cuisine. So travel with me, summer attire optional, as I explore the best of the flips (hits) and flops (mishaps) in my Baja kitchen.

Now that I’ve peaked your interest and whet your appetite for acidic, salted milky cheese here’s the flop.

When milk does not becomes cheese:

Making quéso fresco is easy and I’ve succeeded many times in the U.S. You can find the recipe here. I purchased readily available pasteurized whole cow’s milk (leche de vaca entera) and white vinegar (vinagre blanco). I finely chopped jalapeño and red bell pepper in anticipation of making Quéso Fresco con Pimientos. The local goat ranchers make a fresh fabulous quéso and I was sure that I could recreate one with cow milk. I followed the directions exactly. The milk partially separated but the curds were minuscule and there was never a clear whey layer. The problem it seems was the milk. Mexican milk has less protein than U.S. milk and that can affect curd yield. The lower protein content makes it difficult to froth the milk for a cappuccino also. The most likely reason for cheese to fail is old milk which is too acidic or the milk has been ultra-pasteurized. The milk didn’t say ultra-pasteurized but who knows, it could have been. When in doubt, blame the milk. Next time I will use fresh goat milk from a local rancher. Stay tuned. I salvaged the thickened milky cheese layer from the sack cloth, added diced jalapeño pepper and red bell pepper and a sauce was born. I turned that flop into a flip with a slight of hand.

 
Finally the Recipe

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Poblano and Red Bell Pepper

Ingredients:
2 medium to large sweet potatoes (yams)
1 red onion
1 sweet red pepper
1 poblano pepper
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
Scrub vegetables and sweet potatoes, I leave the peel for more fiber and nutrition. Dice into 1 inch pieces, mix with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Microwave for 5 minutes to soft the potatoes. Grill in a grill basket over medium heat, 350-375F, until soft and slightly charred. Serve plain or drizzle with plain yogurt, la crema, or failed quéso fresco. Eat as a side dish with grilled meat or as a vegetarian entrée by adding legumes, nuts or more dairy to increase the protein content.

Savor every bite and enjoy the journey.
I’m taking this easy side dish to Fiesta Friday where you can find delicious recipes from around the globe.

image

image

image

La Gringa Cooks, Pollo Rellenos Con Pina Salsa

Pollo Rellenos
Living the expat life in rural Mexico gives me a new appreciation of “cooking locally” and I am excited to begin a new series called, La Gringa Cooks. I have adapted many recipes to accommodate new ingredients, new cooking methods and work arounds for favorite meals all while keeping healthy and fit. I’ll share my hits and flops from the my beach kitchen in Baja Mexico.

image

image
There is no Trader Joes or World Market around the corner for exotic spices and prepared spices or meals. There is no Whole Foods with a rainbow of vegetables and fruits. What I do have is a Sunday Market where fresh local produce is sold for pennies. I can buy a weeks worth of fruits and vegetables for a family of two for about $8 USD. We have incredible fishing in the Sea of Cortez and very lean meats. There are no fat cows or pigs here.

image

 

 

Today’s recipe was inspired by Angie’s Fiesta Friday Healthy Challenge image

To see more healthy recipes go here.
She has given us pineapple (pina) and a green leafy vegetable to create a healthy meal. Swiss chard is delicious at the moment and fresh pineapples are a staple here.

Chicken Stuffed With Chard and Warm Pineapple Salsa
Servings:2
Difficulty: Easy but looks fancy

Ingredients:

For Stuffed Chicken

2 chicken breasts boned and skinned
2 slices prosciutto or Serrano jamon
1 bunch fresh chard leaves
2 cloves garlic minced
Black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine or low sodium chicken broth

For Pineapple Salsa

1 cup fresh or canned pineapple
1/4 chopped red onion
2 tablespoons pineapple jelly
1/4 to 1 tsp finely chopped serrano chile, to taste

Recipe

Wash chard carefully, strip the leaves from the stems and rough chop the washed leaves. Sauté minced garlic in a splash of heated olive oil until fragrant in a skillet. Add chard and sauté until wilted. Remove chard and set aside.

Prepare chicken breasts by skinning and deboning or buy skinless, boneless chicken breasts. Slice partially through each individual breast. Pepper but do not salt the meat. Stuff each breast with a generous 1/3 cup of chard. Fold breast pieces over the stuffing and wrap with Serrano ham slices. Secure with toothpicks.
Reheat skillet with a generous splash of olive oil and grill chicken breasts on medium heat until cooked through, about 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken. A splash of white wine works wonders to deglaze the pan and keep the chicken moist while cooking.

While chicken cooks. Cut and prepare the pineapple if using fresh into small chucks. Chop onion and chile. Sauté onions until fragrant and add pineapple, chile and jelly. Gentle sauté until pineapple is soft.

Serve chicken breasts whole or slice and serve with warm salsa.
Enjoy with a glass of Mexican Chardonnay.

An Open Letter To Donald Trump From Some Angry Women.

What’s For Dinner Doc has never been a political blog but I have spent 3 decades providing healthcare to women and I can’t stand by and ignore Mr. Trump’s words and actions against women. I’m a registered Republican but I vote my principles before party. I couldn’t have said it better than this. We will never go back to Mr. Trump’s “great America” when sexual harassment and assault were ignored as “locker room” antics, inequality in pay was accepted and women were expected to remain silent. You have a voice and a vote – use it. Read the full letter with an open heart and ask yourself how do you want the women in your life to be treated.

Dear Mr. Trump… can I call you Mr. Trump? Is that ok? I want you to be happy, that’s very important to me. Before I get started, let me say this letter isn’t from all women. The T…

Source: An Open Letter To Donald Trump From Some Angry Women.