Sunday, October 4, 2009

Learning from the two Marias

I like to experiment with a couple of new vegetables in the garden every year. Last year I tried jalapeno peppers and couldn’t use them all. This year I experimented with ancho peppers. My understanding was that they aren’t one of the hottest peppers but are commonly used in Mexican cooking. When I asked my friend Maria Turner, she said her mother always used them to make chili relleno.

Since Maria’s suggestion is to stuff the chili relleno with Mexican cheese, I thought it would be an ideal time to also try Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda’s Cuban Black Bean Soup. Or rather, her mother’s. I grew black turtle beans a couple of years ago to dry and use in black bean soup. I found the beans so tedious to hull after drying that I haven’t grown them again since, but I still have some stored in a glass jar, then the main ingredient is already in the kitchen.

I figured out I didn’t have an innate Latina cook skill when the black beans didn’t get soft. I failed at the very first step! But I proceeded anyway, trying everything I could think of to soften them and when I could finally bite in without chipping the enamel on my teeth, I added seasoning.

The chili relleno began with roasting the peppers and taking the skin off. That was new to me and also tedious, but I’ll try it a different way next time to see if it’s easier. Here’s the basic recipe I used after listening to Maria and reading a few recipes online when I realized I had more questions. We used one of the many jars of salsa we canned a couple of months ago for the last step.

Chili relleno
Roast and skin peppers.
Combine Mexican cheese with salt, pepper, thyme and garlic.
Whip two egg whites to soft peaks (this was a good amount for seven peppers).
Roll stuffed peppers in whipped eggs.
Roll in corn meal.
Fry in a skillet with enough oil to do cook one side at a time. Turn until each side is completely browned.
Put them in a serving dish then top with your favorite salsa.
Jim’s soup rating: 7, with expectations that the leftovers will improve to 9 as the seasonings continue to go through the soup.
Beth’s soup rating: 7

Jim’s chili relleno rating: 10
Beth’s chili relleno rating: 10 (when I added sour cream to calm the spiciness of the peppers)
Thanks to the Marias and their mothers for the lesson!
This week: Butternut squash and greens pasta

1 comment:

  1. That pizza looks delicious, Beth! Very pretty pics.