Thursday, November 8, 2012


I'm all about soups that are friendly to a variety of tastes. Sometimes it can be difficult to cook for a family where each has food dislikes or preferences and make everyone happy.  Pozole reminds me of how some people make tacos: lots of topping ingredients set out and everyone chooses what to put on their own dish. It doesn't come out super spicy like you might think as long as you don't allow many of the chili's seeds to get in. In fact, most of the kick comes later. My husband added some chipotle tabasco sauce to kick it up a bit while eating. Either way, it is very warming and satisfying for a cold windy night, like tonight.

Most recipes I looked at were for very large groups so I scaled this down for just 4-5 people and made some last minute invitations to dinner at my house. My sister was lucky enough to be available that night. She called it a "fancy version" of the type of pozole she was used to eating with many Latin-American friends of hers in California, because of all the choices of toppings and the amount of meat I used. Everyone loved it. Yum.

1.5 oz. red guajillo chilies (they come dried in a clear plastic package)
4 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1 bay leaf
2 tsp oregano
1 lb. pork (shoulder, shank, roast or long as it is well marbled), cut into small chunks
14 oz. can of hominy
1 TBSP or more lime juice
1 tsp. salt

shredded cabbage
radishes (thinly sliced)
green onions
mexican crema
tortilla chips or tostada shells

1. Start 1.5 cups of water to boil in a small pot. Get larger pot with 6 cups of water heating as well.
2. Cut off the stem and any hard parts of the chilies, shake out the seeds. Roast the chilies in a dry skillet a few minutes until they soften. Add to the small pot of boiling water, cover with lid, turn off heat and let sit for 15 min.
3. Pat pork dry with paper towel and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Brown all sides of the pork in a skillet, then add 2 minced cloves of garlic for the last 2 minutes. Add to large pot of boiling water.
4. Take chilies, their soaking water and 2 whole garlic cloves into a food processor and puree.
5. Pour the chili mixture into the large pot, using a mesh strainer, to only let the liquid through.  
6. Add hominy to the large pot and boil for 1.5-2 hrs until pork is very tender. Add 1 tsp salt and lime juice (you could also serve with lime wedges for everyone to add their own lime). Either way you do lime is fine but don't omit. It is important to the taste!
7. Prep garnishes and set out for everyone to pick what add-ins they want.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Autumn Flavor Chili

Do you have Halloween food traditions? It seems a lot of people have either soup, chili, donuts or apple cider. I remember my family having soup or chili very often on Halloween night since it was a busy night for a crazy household of nine plus all the trick-or-treaters at the door. People could come in and grab a bowl before they went to get dressed up, went to a party, etc.
   It wasn't too busy of a night for me this year. My husband was at class so I was home alone and I got only about 20 trick-or-treaters.  I made chili anyway as a remembrance of my childhood days. I added an adult spin and autumn flair with the extra spices and flavors.  They gives the chili a fun, rich tasting base. Thanks to my friends at for the great idea. I really wish I had gotten an orange sweet potato (yam) instead of the white one to get that great halloween color incorporated, but oh well.

1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/2 small jalepeno, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 (14 oz) cans black beans
2 cups broth
1 can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 package ground chicken
6 large cremini or shitaake mushrooms, chopped
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper

Heat onion, jalepeno, garlic and bell pepper in pot with 1/2 TBSP of oil for several minutes until soft. Add in sweet potato, beans, broth, tomatoes and pumpkin. Cook chicken and mushrooms in the other 1/2 TBSP oil. Add in oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, smoked paprika and chili powder to the meat and mix together in a skillet until browned and cooked through, then add to chili pot. Add cinnamon and cocoa powder. Simmer for about 45 minutes until sweet potatoes are nice and soft. Serve with cilantro and avocado garnish.