Chayote Soup with Peanut and Chipotle
Four Servings

One purpose of this blog is to introduce readers to the foods of the Americas, especially ones they might not be familiar with. One of these foods is chayote, a light green, pear-shaped squash that is native to Mexico. It’s not as well known as more familiar squashes such as butternut or acorn, but now that fall is here, it will make a delicious Latin addition to your holiday table.

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Chayote has a mild, pleasant flavor, and you can find it in supermarkets and Latin grocery stores. This particular recipe is based on one for butternut squash from Lydia Walshin’s blog, The Perfect Pantry.

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This recipe is simpler (this is time and budget-conscious cooking!), but is delicious and very satisfying. When I was taking pictures for this post, I could hear my husband  scraping the bowl with his spoon to get every last drop. Thanks for visiting my blog!

4 chayotes, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo seeded, chopped
4 tablespoons of peanut butter
Salt to taste

Tip: If you have never worked with chayote before, it has a “tush” at the bottom (Turn it upside down; you’ll see.) Slice lengthwise along the “tush,” and take out the whitish pit at the center. Remove any brown spots.

Place 8 cups of water (or enough to cover the chayote) in a pot and bring to a boil. Add chayote and boil, covered, until chayote is soft and tender, about 15 minutes. Drain. Let chayote cool. (The reason you let the chayote cool is because you’re going to need to put it in a blender. Many blenders have plastic pitchers, and you don’t want to put really hot things in plastic, which can release harmful chemicals into the food. Doctors have also advised people not to put plastic items in the dishwasher.)

When chayote has cooled, whirl in a blender with the chicken broth, chipotle chile, and peanut butter. For 4 servings, you’re going to need to work in batches, so in terms of liquid volume, add half the chayote and 2 cups of chicken broth at a time.

Return soup to the same pot, salt to taste, and heat. Serve hot.

Make cooking meaningful. Growing up, I spent many years watching my abuelita (grandmother) cook. Her chicken soup, apple strudel, Chinese egg rolls, roast chicken, and oatmeal cookies with jam all stand out vividly in my mind. Now she watches me cook. She’s long gone, so I have an 8 1/2 by 11 black-and-white photo of her on my kitchen counter. I know she’s not really watching me there in the kitchen, but she would if she could.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Potato Tacos with Mole and Doña Tina’s Rice

Welcome to the first post of Doña Tina’s Latin Café, the blog that emphasizes festive, budget-conscious, and easy-to-make Latin recipes.

I started this blog as a fun hobby, a way to share Latin-inspired dishes of my own invention, such as the sweet potato and rice recipes that follow. Then I did an Internet search and found that Doña Tina is not as brilliant as she thought she was. My ideas had already been thought of!

So here at least, are my own versions of these recipes. Since I’m a one-woman band, and developing and testing (and retesting) recipes takes time, I may not post several times a week, but I will post often enough to keep things interesting. So subscribe and get a post in your email box!

Enjoy my recipes for sweet potato tacos with mole and Doña Tina’s rice. They make a great meal served together! Thanks so much for visiting my blog!

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Sweet Potato Tacos with Mole
Four servings

Mole, such as mole negro, is a Mexican sauce made from ingredients such as chocolate, sesame seeds, and chiles. Some traditional versions contain over a dozen ingredients and can take hours to make. But no need for that! You can buy ready-made mole paste, such as Doña María’s, in the Latin or ethnic foods section of most supermarkets.

My college roommate Rosa was a great cook and made the best chicken mole I have ever tasted. This mole, to the best of my memory, is what hers tasted like. Food memories are powerful! Make some of your own.

1/4 cup Doña María’s mole paste
1 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
2 10 ounce packages frozen diced sweet potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
4 corn tortillas

Place mole paste and water in a medium-sized pot. Put on low heat and stir continuously until paste breaks up and dissolves. Add in sugar and cocoa and continue to stir until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and keep covered.

Place 2 cups of water in a large covered skillet and bring water to boil. Stir in frozen sweet potato cubes. Cover and steam potatoes on medium-high heat until soft and tender, about 15 minutes. Drain. In same skillet on medium heat, melt butter until potatoes are thoroughly coated and stir. Turn off heat. Scoop sweet potatoes into warm tortillas, and spoon mole sauce over them. Enjoy!

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Doña Tina’s Rice
Four Servings

2 jalapeño or serrano chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup basmati rice
1 1/3 cups water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Rinse and drain rice in a small bowl until the water comes out clear (about 3 times). Add water to a medium-sized pot with the olive oil and salt. Cover and bring to a boil.

When the water is boiling, stir in rice and chopped garlic. Turn heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, very quickly and all at once, add the chopped chile peppers, stir, and cover. Simmer for another 5 minutes.

Stir in chopped cilantro and serve immediately.