Tag Archives: Chocolate

Recipe: Making Authentic Mole Rojo in Teotitlan del Valle

 

My Australian friend Tracey Ponting came back through Oaxaca this week on her way from San Cristobal de las Casas to Distrito Federal and on to England to visit her parents.  Tracey and I met on the bus to San Cris in January when we stayed at the same posada.  From there we traveled together to Palenque.  I convinced her to spend a couple of days in Teotitlan del Valle for rest and relaxation before starting the next leg of her journey.  In April she will begin a seven-week pilgrimage on the Camino Frances part of the Camino Santiago de Compostela in Spain before going back to Perth.

What better way to relax than to settle in at Las Granadas Bed and Breakfast and get instruction from some of the best cooks in the village, the magic trio of Josefina, Magdalena and Eloisa?  Tracey asked for Oaxacan Mole Rojo, which is her favorite of Oaxaca’s seven moles.  I participated with her and I’m happy to share this incredible recipe (receta) with you!

 

Josefina Ruiz Vazquez’ Family Recipe for Mole Rojo 

  • 75 grams (2.6 ounces) ancho chiles
  • 26 grams (0.91 ounces) pasilla chiles
  • 55 grams (2 ounces) guajillo chiles
  • 50 grams (1.75 ounces) sesame seeds
  • 75 grams (2.6 ounces) raisins
  • 25 grams (.88 ounces) almonds
  • 4 to 5 medium sized fresh red tomatoes
  • 150 grams (5.25 ounces) tomatillos
  • 100 grams (3.5 ounces) cooking chocolate, semi-sweet (preferably Oaxacan chocolate, which includes cinnamon, almonds, sugar)
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 pieces of dried ginger
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 5 grams (0.18 ounces) cinnamon sticks
  • 1 small onion, halved
  • 20 grams (.70 ounces) garlic (or one small head)
  • 1 T. dried thyme (can use 2 T. fresh)
  • 1 T. fresh oregano
  • 2 slices toasted white or wheat bread or 1 toasted medium dinner roll
  • 1/2 C. olive oil
  • 4-6 chicken thighs and legs
 
  1.  Toast the chiles over high heat on the comal, over a gas flame or in a shallow frying pan until charred and soft.  Remove seeds and stem.  De-vein.  Take about 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of the chile seeds and toast them.  Set chiles and seeds aside in a bowl.
  2. On the comal, toast together the onion, garlic (with peel), sesame seeds, raisins and almonds until browned.  Add the herbs and spices to this mix.  Stir and toast.
  3. Cook the tomatoes and tomatillos together in 1 C. water for 10 minutes.  Reserve liquid.
  4. Peel the garlic after it is toasted.
  5. Soak the chiles in the tomato water until soft.
  6. On the metate (or in a machine) combine the raisins, thyme, oregano, cloves, cinnamon, peppers, raisins.  Once the paste is fine and all the ingredients are indistinguishable, add all the roasted sesame seeds.  Continue mashing until seeds are pulverized into paste.  You are looking for the consistency of clay.  Remove paste to a small bowl.
  7. In a 6 quart pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil with 1 T. salt, 3 cloves of garlic and 1/2 onion.  Add the raw chicken parts.  Bring water to a simmer, cover and cook for 30-45 minutes until chicken is tender. (Do not use breast meat, warns Josefina. It does not have enough flavor.  You can substitute turkey, but it will take 1 to 1-1/2 hours to cook.)  When finished cooking, remove chicken and reserve stock.
  8. Add onions, chile and garlic to the metate and crush.
  9. Grind bread into a fine crumb.
  10. Put olive oil into a large sautee pan or casserole over medium heat.  Add 1/2 C. of mashed tomatoes and mole paste to oil.  Sautee the paste for 2 minutes until oil is absorbed.  Strain the chile juice into the tomatoes and add this to the cooking paste.
  11. At this point, you can keep the past for 2 months in the refrigerator, but if you add all the tomatoes as follows, you will need to use immediately.
  12. Add a third of the mashed tomatoes and 2 C. of the chicken stock to the mole paste.  Continue adding the tomatoes in thirds, stirring until liquid is reduced.
  13. Break the chocolate into pieces and add to the casserole.  Stir until dissolved. (Magdalena roasts her own cacao beans and makes her own chocolate.)
  14. Add 1/2 the breadcrumbs, stir and correct for thickness.  The mixture should be like a very thick sauce that sticks to a wooden spoon.
  15. Correct the seasonings. Taste.  You may need to add a little more salt, more chocolate or a tad of sugar according to taste.
  16. Toast 3 avocado leaves and add them to the casserole and stir.  If needed, add the remaining breadcrumbs.
  17. Serve with rice, tortillas and steamed fresh vegetables such as choyote squash, carrots, green beans, broccoli and cauliflower.
Serves 4-6.

Josefina attributes this recipe to her grandmother Rufina Gabriel and her mother Marina Vasquez Gabriel.  She knows her grandmother learned it from her mother and the mothers before her.  It is made completely by hand using the stone metate and mano de metate.  Less ambitious and weaker cooks will want to pull out a food processor or blender.  Just beware that the texture of the paste will be different, says Josefina.

 

She also notes that different families use different quantities and types of ingredients.  Some mole rojos are sweeter, some more picante, some don’t use organic vegetables.  Josefina prides herself on the face that she grows her own tomillo (thyme), oregano, tomatoes and onions.  Mole rojo is reserved for special occasions like Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and Fiesta de Julio Sangre de Cristo (the village saint day) since it takes about three or four hours to shop for and prepare the ingredients.

Of course, we are wearing our Zapotec aprons (mandils):  left to right, Norma, Josefina, Eloisa and Tracey.


Recipe: Oaxaca Chocolate Cheesecake

Oaxaca chocolate is spicy and incredible.  In addition to chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla and ground almonds, it can contain a hint of hot peppers.  I bought some recently at the Benito Juarez Market in the city from two little ladies who make it out of their Tlacolula de Matamoros kitchen.  My intention was  to bring it home and use it in my morning beverage we call “choco-cafe,” a mix of good strong coffee and Oaxaca chocolate that my husband Stephen and I love.

Today, I picked up my adult son at the airport for Thanksgiving.  (He came in from L.A.) Mom, he said, will you bake a chocolate cheesecake for Thanksgiving?  I had bought ingredients for a NY cheesecake, but with a swift adaptation of a trusted recipe that I used to make and sell from my gourmet cookware shop, cooking school, and catering business (some years ago), and that Oaxaca chocolate, I produced what he asked for. Something familiar from childhood that he adored. It’s in the oven now.  You still have time to make your Thanksgiving Oaxaca Chocolate Cheesecake!  Go for it.

Supplies: What you will need

10″ springform pan

small bowl for melting chocolate in microwave oven

small bowl for softening cream cheese in microwave oven

rubber spatula

mixer

Ingredients for crust:

3 packages (in the box of 4) of graham crackers, finely ground in food processor

6 T. butter, melted

1/4 c. sugar

Ingredients for filling:

4 packages of cream cheese, softened

4 eggs

1/2 t. vanilla

1-1/4 c. sugar

2 c. sour cream

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate

8 oz.  Oaxaca chocolate, broken into chunks

In food processor, process graham crackers until they are a fine crumb.  Add sugar and combine.  Add melted butter.  Combine.  Pour into buttered springform pan.  With fingers, press firmly on base and up sides to form a crust.  Set aside.

With mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until soft.  With mixer going, add eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla.  Mix.  Add sour cream and briefly mix until blended in.  Pour half the plain vanilla mixture into a second bowl.

Melt all the chocolates.  I do this in a microwave oven on 30% power for about 3-5 minutes, checking to make sure that the chocolate doesn’t overheat.  Pour the melted chocolate into the remaining white cheesecake mixture and blend with mixer until the cheesecake is completely chocolate.

Pour the white mixture into the springform pan first.  Gently pour the chocolate mixture on top of the white mixture.  Use a spoon to create swirls.

In a preheated 350 degree oven, bake for one hour or until the center is dry and firm.  Turn the oven off.  Leave the cheesecake in the oven to settle and avoid cracking.  Cover and refrigerate.  You can make this up to three days in advance.

As soon as I remove this from the pan tomorrow, I’ll take a photo and post it before we eat it!

Buen provecho!

 

 

Choco-Cafe: Easy Mexican Chocolate Coffee Beverage

A possible Mayan chief forbids a person to tou...

Mayan image of chocolate -- a valued commodity

Stephen and I have a morning breakfast habit when we are in Oaxaca.  We are ritualistic coffee drinkers.  For the past decades (too many to mention here), I have been grinding my coffee beans daily to brew my morning beverage of choice.  When we are with Federico and Dolores and their family in Teotitlan, the morning beverage of choice is hot chocolate made with milk and the pungent taste of Oaxaca chocolate blended with chili, cinnamon, vanilla and almonds.  We decided some years back to mix the two and came up with Choco-Cafe.  Our adaptation there and at home is to put the chocolate blocks directly into our coffee and stir, since we don’t drink our coffee with milk.  It is delicious!

When we are in North Carolina, it becomes more challenging.  I just received a holiday gift from my co-worker Nancy.  Wow, does she ever know me.  A box of  Allegro Coffee Company Drinking Chocolate “Organic Mayan Spice 73” was tucked away in my goody bag.  It is Organic Fair Trade Certified dark chocolate mixed with chili, pepper and allspice.  She bought it at Whole Foods Market.

This morning, I added 1 tsp. to my coffee along with 1/2 t. of stevia and WOW!  It is so close to the real thing that I thought I was dreaming.  I highly recommend you try this for a perfect non-alcoholic holiday treat.

Chocolate: What’s Not to Love About It?

Click here for Kathleen’s Chocolate story   http://wp.me/pTTp9-1gU

My fellow writer, expat food aficionado and socially/politically/environmentally conscious advocate for responsible living has just written an important article.  I encourage you to read it.  The slave trade in Africa, a centuries old practice, endures because of the world’s love for chocolate.  Kathleen Dobek writes about the chocolate candy makers who don’t and do use fair trade practices, the regulations and compliance issues around chocolate manufacture, and what we can do to ensure that we are not supporting companies that are not adhering to ethical labor practices.

I love chocolate.  What’s not to love about it is the enslavement of children who harvest the cacao bean for some of the world’s leading chocolate manufacturers.  Kathleen has researched and written a great article.  Please read it.

It raises the question for me about Oaxacan chocolate.  Where does the cacao bean and chocolate come from that goes into making that delicious, frothy morning cup of hot chocolate.  Where does the chocolate come from that is the primary ingredient for mole negro, my absolute favorite mole that covers chicken and rice?  If anyone knows the answer, do tell!

This comment just came in to me via email from Silva:  the chocolate used in Oaxaca for drinking and mole comes from the Mexican State of Tabasco.

She sent this link to the USDA web site for an explanation of terms regarding organic labeling.   http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ams.fetchTemplateData.do?template=TemplateA&navID=NationalOrganicProgram&leftNav=NationalOrganicProgram&page=NOPUnderstandingOrganicLabeling&description=Understanding%20Organic%20Labeling&acct=nopgeninfo

She goes on to say that many people take the “USDA organic” label for granted. If you check USDA, you will find that the term means that up to 5% of the item can be chemicals and non-organic materials. This agreement was made by
pressure from Monsanto, Dole, etc. Many so called USDA organic items at the grocery store are NOT organic, but 95% organic. They can be identical to non-organic products, just cost more money – great profits for companies like Dole.  The only items that are organic are those that say “USDA 100%
organic”. I have never seen that label in a store.  Just worth keeping in mind when using that term…