Mahi Mahi with Sweet Potato, Avocado, Onion, Cheese, Cucumber and Cilantro Chutney in White Corn Tortilla Shells

Contains:  Seafood, nightshades, dairy.  Potential soy.  Is:  Gluten-free.  

(The soy would be in the coriander chutney I used.  Other savory chutneys could be substituted, or you could make your own – something I plan to challenge myself with this coming autumn.)

tortilla, mahi-mahi, sweet potato, avocado, recipe

I’d planned something that would be more authentically Mexican, or even Tex-Mex, but here I am, just going through the fridge (and my garden) as well as my spice and seasonings rack to come up with this one.  Sometimes it is just fun to make wraps with both hot and cold ingredients.

Wednesday, I’d gone down to my old stomping grounds in Connecticut for my book club meeting – the second in-person one we’ve had since COVID – and I’d missed the first one due overbooking my life up here with newly-hatched chickens.   Alas, this book club is now going defunct and closing its proverbial doors – but I wanted to see people from it again!  A last send-off, as it were.

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Well, since I was down there anyway, I dragged along a cooler, and stopped to pick up seafood at one of the better purveyors of seafood in the Danbury region.  (Here in the hinterlands of western Massachusetts the pickings can be slim.  Mostly up here you can find salmon, or you can find farmed shrimp.  Not much else.)  I also stopped at an Indian market, but that’s another meal or three…

Mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus), aka “common dolphinfish” or “dorado”, is not remotely related to the mammal dolphin.  They typically hang out in the Gulf of Mexico, near Hawaii, and in the Indian Ocean, which makes them well-travelled tropical and subtropical oceanic fish.   The name mahi-mahi derives from the Hawaiian language.

recipe, corn, tortillas, gluten-free, mahi-mahi, avocado, sweet potato, cucumber, cilantro, cheese

The garlic and the yellow cherry tomatoes came from my own garden.

I found that for this I don’t need to add salt.  I use ocean-going fish here (as well as cooking the onion and the fish in bacon fat) – which means I really don’t miss it.  And just about any cheese worth its salt (ahem) already provides some salt to a dish such as this one.

The coriander/cilantro chutney is a product of the Indian foods concern, Swad, and contains cilantro/coriander, serrano pepper, coconut, soybean oil, vinegar, cumin, ginger, sugar, garlic, citric acid, and a couple of emulsifiers.  I’m not a fan of the soybean oil, but it is good to know that it is there.

recipe, corn, tortillas, gluten-free, mahi-mahi, avocado, sweet potato, cucumber, cilantro, cheese

Forward into the recipe!

Prep Time:  30 minutes (some of which can be done while other parts cook).
Cook Time:  40-45 minutes.
Rest Time:  As little as practical.
Serves:  I wrote this for one person eating 3 small tortillas.  Depending on the sweet potato, you could get 2 – 6 servings out of one of those!
Cuisine:  Not really.
Leftovers:  Not really.

Mahi Mahi with Sweet Potato, Avocado, Onion, Cheese, Cucumber and Cilantro Chutney in White Corn Tortilla Shells

INGREDIENTS:

Note that for some of these, ie the sweet potato, you might not use all of it in filling the tortilla wraps.

  • 1 small sweet potato, any bad parts removed.
  • 1/2 whole garlic head.  (Mine was small from my garden, so I used the whole, along with the softer parts of its scape, optional)
  • 1-2 ounces / 30-60 grams of diced red or Vidalia onion.  
  • 0.2 pounds (approximately 3.5 ounces or 90-100 grams) mahi-mahi (another fish can always be substituted).   
  • Around 1.5 teaspoons reduced balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste.
  • About 2 or so teaspoons cooking fat.  (Mine was bacon, but a good oil such as grapeseed or avocado will be great.)  
  • About 2 ounces / 60 grams Fontina cheese – shredding is preferred, but very thin slices work as well.   Or, sub with any other cheese that might melt.   
  • 1/2 of an avocado.
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • 3-4 cherry tomatoes, halved.  
  • 1 mini cucumber, ends chopped off and then cut into matchsticks.  You will still have extra.  
  • 3-4 teaspoons cilantro / coriander leaf chutney.  Or use a savory chutney of your choice or making, with a bit of a mild or hotter kick to it.  
  • 3 small gluten-free soft corn tortilla shells.  (This brand is 10 ounces/ 283 grams for 12 shells)

METHOD:

Roast the garlic head in the oven at 375 for about half an hour. When it is done, put the head on a plate and push the “meat” out from the skins with a fork or spoon or tableware knife held on a non-sharp edge.  You can do the same with the soft part of the scape, if using.  Set aside.

Steam or boil the sweet potato until soft but not falling apart, about 20 minutes.  Test with the tines of a fork.  Remove skin, and slice into lengths.  Set aside, but keep warm.

Meanwhile, while the above cooks, cut everything else up.

In the skillet, add your oil or fat, and turn heat to medium.  Cook the onions until soft and just beginning to brown.  Remove to a paper towel to drain, then lay down the mahi-mahi to cook.  Grind fresh pepper atop, and drizzle with about half of a teaspoon of balsamic reduction.    Depending on both thickness and personal preference, cook for 3-6 minutes per side, adding some additional ground pepper to the newly exposed side.

Remove, and reduce heat to medium low.  Add the tortillas – in a large skillet you can probably do two at a time.  You want them to warm up but not to turn crispy (which would make them harder to work with).   Flip each one after about 1 minute or so, depending on the heat given off by your skillet.  Remove, and now it is time to add the ingredients:

Start loading the tortillas (one at a time) with a strip of the fish, a strip or two of the sweet potato, and about a third of the onion mixture.  Dollop in a bit of the garlic paste.

At this point I prefer to add some of the cheese.  Then atop that, I will add the other veggies, and then top with a bit of the cilantro chutney, all following the same line as you started with.  Fold.

Repeat the process three more times until you are done.  Serve yourself…  or if you are doing this for multiple adults, they might want to create their own.  This dish is best for informal eating.

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Grilled Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Pork

Contains:   Nightshades, dairy.  Is:  Grilled! Gluten-free.

(It has been a while since I’ve posted a grilled recipe.)

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After grilling, and topped.

Source recipe (but only for the sweet potatoes…):  Grilled Hassleback Sweet Potatoes with Molasses-Nutmeg Butter Recipe | Bobby Flay | Food Network

I adapted the above, out of the firm belief that sweet potatoes should remain not further sweetened, so I didn’t add the molasses.  They’re named “sweet” potatoes because they already are, and deliciously so!  The only topping ingredient I really wanted to keep from this was the nutmeg.  Otherwise, indeed the only thing I paid attention to from Bobby Flay’s recipe was how best to cook/grill the sweet potatoes themselves.  Sorry, Bobby… 

I’m adding in the pork because I went to a culinary pot luck, and because I recently had purchased half a heritage hog no longer on its hooves.  

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Hasselbacks, but prior to grill, and that further hassling…

The mashed regular potato and the cream cheese got added as I developed the topping, because I wanted something to bind the other topping ingredients together.  I am glad I did. 

Prep Time:  20 minutes.
Cook Time:  25 minutes.
Grill Time:  15 minutes.
Rest Time:  5 minutes.
Serves: 6 or more.
Cuisine:  American.
Leftovers:  Sure.  

Grilled Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Pork

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 small-medium sized sweet potatoes (one per person). Cut off ends and any bad spots.
  • 2 strips of (streaky) bacon – which is the regular stuff in the US.
  • 1 pork loin chop. Mine was bone-in, but you won’t be using the bone. 
  • About 5-6 ounces/150 grams onion (yellow, white or red), diced into small portions.
  • One medium sized yellow/gold (ie, a Yukon gold) potato.  
  • 2 ounces cream cheese.
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground clove
  • ¼ teaspoon your favorite hot sauce.  (Mine had Scotch bonnet in it – feel free to adapt amount you add to your (and your guests’) taste preferences.)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

METHOD: 

Simmer sweet potatoes in sufficient water to cover, covering with a lid, for about 20 minutes on medium heat – but test towards the end to see if a fork can easily puncture them. 

Remove from heat and from water onto a fresh surface.  Cool enough that you can hold one end of the sweet potatoes so as to make a Hasselback presentation – which you will do using a sharp knife to cut about 3/4ths or so the way through the potato at ¼ inch (0.65 cm) or so increments. 

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet to a crispy but not burnt done-ness, using its own fat.  Remove bacon onto a paper towel to drain.   When cool enough, break into small fragments with your fingers.  Set aside. 

In a pot with salted water, simmer that Yukon (or other gold/yellow) potato until quite salt, about 20 minutes, while you work on the next steps in the skillet. 

In the same skillet, with the bacon fat remaining, add the pork chop, with a dash of salt and ground pepper.  Cook until done on each side – timing here will depend on the thickness of the cut.  Juices should run free.  (My chop was too thin to insert a thermometer, but do so if you need.)  Set aside to cool. 

In that same skillet, with the bacon fat remaining, add the diced onion, and sauté on medium low heat until very softened.  At least 15 minutes. (You are also welcome to caramelize by cooking with frequent mixing, for the 40 minutes this usually requires.  If the onion requires more oil, add a dash of grapeseed, avocado oil, or a slice of butter.) 

Meanwhile, dice up the pork chop, discarding any extraneous fat (and the bone, if it’s there).  Dice fine, about 1/3 or so inch chunks (0.8 cm), but no need to measure. 

Add to the skillet with the onion, and then add the nutmeg, cloves, and that dab of hot sauce.  Continue to cook, reducing heat as needed. 

Meanwhile, mash up that potato (preferentially leave skin on).  Mix in the cream cheese. 

Add the bacon, potato, and cream cheese to the skillet, and merge. 

Taste, and adjust seasonings, and stir that in as needed. 

Two Options Here: 

A:  In your own immediate-access back yard – keep the skillet toppings for the Hasselback’s warm on your cooktop back burner, on a warm setting, covered.  OR

B:  Taking to a pot luck elsewhere:  Wrap the contents of that skillet into a foil packet, making that packet reasonably flat for re-heating speed purposes – maybe a half inch thick. 

TO GRILL: 

Set up your charcoal or propane grill as you would usually do.  Adding seasoned wood chips is a great idea to impart additional flavor to the potatoes.  This is by no means necessary. 

On a hot grill, lay out the Hasselback sweet potatoes, slit sides up of course, and directly ON the grill.  (The pan seen here for before and after grilling was NOT on the grill…) Lay down the foil package (if you need to use Option B), and grill  hot but not flame-throwing fire for 15 minutes. 

Remove the Hasselbacks from  the grill, and top each with a few dollops of the hot/warm topping, and serve. 

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Strawberry-Rhubarb Chutney

Contains:  Added sugar.  Is: vegetarian, vegan.  

Apologies for the autopostings earlier today – forgot that I’d not re-set the timer for these posts, so I could finish them up.  Also, I’m sorry about the lack of photos for this; my camera cable is busted, and cell reception here is iffy.  This will be rectified this week when I post those recipes for using this chutney!

This is a chutney for which I will also provide a couple recipes one can use this with, later this week.  A vegetarian crostini with goat cheese and chutney, as well as a pan-fried fish recipe with this as a topping when served.chutney, recipe, rhubarb

Rhubarb:  a very seasonal late spring stalk (Rheum rhabarbarum (syn. R. undulatum) and R. rhaponticum – original European cultivars.  However today’s Rhubarb is a hybrid.) used most frequently in sweet connotations, although I’ve enjoyed using it in stews and curries.  ONLY the STALK is edible!    Leaves have far too high a concentration of oxalic acid.  It will only be sold as stalks, but should you grow or harvest your own (it is perennial), keep this in mind.  Evidence of use in Scandinavia and in England early on has been determined, but interestingly enough, rhubarb appears in Zoroastrian mythology as well.

chutney, recipe, strawberry

Strawberries really need no introduction.  But the best of them are obtained in spring and early summer, depending on where you live.  They like similar environments.  So it is no real wonder they are associated together in dishes.

Let’s get to it!

  • Prep Time:  20 minutes.
    Cook Time:  15-20.
    Rest Time:  Until chilled.
    Serves:  As the chutney is a condiment, it depends.
    Cuisine:  American, with distant Indian antecedents.
    Leftovers:  Yes, store the chutney in the fridge for up to about 7 days.  Make the goat cheese/crostini portions just prior to serving. 

Strawberry-Rhubarb Chutney

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small red onion finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 small red hot chili pepper finely chopped, seeds removed if desired
  • 6-7 green cardamom pods, seeds removed then ground OR 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon already ground.  
  • 4-5 cloves, ground OR 1/4 teaspoon already ground cloves
  • pinch of salt
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 5 medium-sized stalks rhubarb peeled and chopped.
  • 200 grams or 1 1/2 cups strawberries, de-stemmed and cut into quarters
  • Freshly ground black pepper.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion to the skillet, and sauté for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
  • Add garlic and ginger, plus the red pepper.   Sauté for another minute, stirring occasionally.
  • Then add cardamom, cloves and salt. Sauté for 1 more minute, with frequent stirring.
  • Add the lime juice and apple cider vinegar and bring to a boil. Then add brown sugar and continue stirring so that this dissolves.  .
  • Add the chopped rhubarb and reduce heat. Cook until the rhubarb gets to the texture you prefer:  about 4 minutes for a chunky consistency; more for a smooth consistency.
  • Add strawberries, and continue cooking about two more minutes, or until they just start to soften.    Taste and season further with salt and pepper as you choose.  If the chutney is too thin, lightly cook longer for evaporation.  If too thick, add more lime juice and stir.
  • Allow to cool, and store in refrigerator in  clean jars – this should be good for a week.

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Oven-Roasted Coturnix Quail with Farro, and Cucumber Salad

Contains:  Gluten, if you use farro.  Is:  Cooking from Home Grown.

You can substitute the farro (an ancient grain) with quinoa or rice, to make this dish gluten-free.  Or with potatoes to make it Paleo and Whole30 instead.  Another veggie can take the place of the cuke, raw or cooked.

quail, recipe, roasted, farro, cucumber

This recipe is adapted from Hank Shaw’s Roast Quail Recipe – How to Oven Roast Quail | Hank Shaw (honest-food.net) .  His recipe is usable for both wild game quail and for domesticated quail such as the Coturnix I am raising.  Hank Shaw says this basic recipe is a good game (ahem) plan for any type of quail you might have access to.  If you ever do find them in supermarkets, they will likely be Coturnix quail.  Here in Massachusetts, it is only legal to raise Coturnix or button quail without a permit.  Both birds are native to eastern Asia.  They are extremely unlikely to survive if they escape.  At any rate, check where you live to verify your permitting rules, in case you decide to raise quail.

I added in the veggies and farro for this recipe to balance things out.

I have found a bunch of quail recipes I want to try.  But this one, on a supremely hot and humid day, seemed quick and up my current alley.  I lack central air so far.  Elaborate is NOT in my game plan this week…

quail, recipe, farro, cucumber, roasted

Note that I drizzled balsamic reduction prior to cooking. The lime wedge was great with quail. I didn’t get a good browning action going, but this was still good and tasty.  (And yes, I did eat this quail up before plating out the otherwise full item on a small plate.)

Keep the skin ON any quail you plan to roast.  This will keep the meat from dehydrating.  These are a very very lean bird.  I processed two quail, and yes, the first one is not optimal in my plucking ability.  I will discuss processing quail in more detail later this summer – once I get the hang of it down enough here to make the task worthy of discussion.  These ones were sloppy first efforts.  (Still tasty…)

Some of the offal will be cooked with the farro.  You can always discard that.   I won’t discard all of it.  I’ll show usable offal below, but pick your personal approach….

I have removed the wings from these quail, because they really lack any amount of edible meat, and because i want to learn how to prep these wings for arts and crafts projects.  You can leave them on the quail as you choose.

Hank Shaw provides an option for those who might like to brine their quail.  The quail will be more tender, but that’s balanced out (in a bad way, IMHO) by being far too salty to enjoy.

You can also hit these guys with a searing torch after cooking – something like a Searzall.  Don’t have one, but the benefits will be to sear up that skin.  I used a drizzle of balsamic reductase to help tighten up the skin (and add flavor) while cooking – using butter instead of the other fats for coating can also help with this.

I wrote this recipe up for TWO people; although I actually only made a half recipe (for just one person, me…)

Quail cooking info

Prep Time: 30 minutes (to allow quail to come to room temp.)  
Cook Time: 15 minutes.
Rest Time: 15 minutes. 
Serves:  2 quail per person.  Recipe written for two. 
Cuisine:  American
Leftovers:  Sure.

I will detail the above information for the sides when I discuss the sides.

Oven-Roasted Coturnix Quail with Farro, and Cucumber Salad

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 whole quail, cleaned, but skin ON.  
  • lard, duck fat, ghee, or a good high temperature cooking oil.  (I used duck fat.)
  • 2 celery sticks, as needed.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.  
  • 1 to 1.5 teaspoon balsamic reduction (optional)
  • Lemon or lime wedges (optional)

METHOD:

Pre-heat oven to 500 F / C.  Or as hot as your oven goes, should it not reach 500.  Take processed quail out of the fridge and let warm to room temperature or thereabouts.  Dry them by patting with a paper towel or two, as needed.  (You can start your farro side or whatever you are making at this point… depending on what it is…)

Bring the quail out of the fridge to allow them come to room temperature before cooking.

Coat the birds with the oil or fat of your choice, noting that the ghee will help brown your quail.  Salt.  Set aside as oven heats.

Place the birds in a heavy-duty roasting pan or in a cast iron pan/skillet.  Set the quail in there, using the celery to keep them from tipping over, or touching each other.

Roast for 12-18 minutes.  I’d err to the lower end of this number, especially with smaller quail such as the Coturnix.  The idea is to keep them succulent.  Although they will brown more the longer they are in there.  Frankly – I vote checking lower end.

Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 or so minutes.  Plate up the sides, and any gravy you wish for the quail themselves.  You can simply just squirt lemon or lime juice on these birds just prior to serving.

In my case, I ended up using a balsamic reduction drizzling for a topping before placing these quail in the oven.

NOTE:  When processing my quail, I discard the intestines, gall bladder, lungs and crop.  The feet can be removed to join my future poultry stock (although I probably not need bother).  I save the heart, any liver not impacted by the gall bladder, and the gizzard.   You do have to clean out the interior of the gizzard, which is full of tiny little stones – or in quail case, probably mostly sand and leftover food from the day before.  The neck can be left on, or could be added to that future poultry stock  (I discarded this, this time).   In a future post (under Homesteading),  I’ll show gizzard cleaning methods. I understand if this is not worth everyone’s time (although I love chicken gizzards).

NOTE: I’d recommend ghee over butter – higher smoke point.  But as noted there are other options.  And butter may brown the skin more, plus the quail won’t be in the oven all THAT long.  .


Obviously, use any sides you like or have to hand for this dish.  This is just an idea.

INGREDIENTS (SIDES):

  • 2/3rd cup farro.
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon Better than Bouillon (mushroom, vegetarian or chicken).  Try to use a low sodium formulation.  (Alternatively, use a good, preferably homemade, stock, 2 cups, and skip the water.)  
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (kala jeera), lightly crushed.  
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion, peeled, slivered, and chopped.
  • Optional internal organs:  Heart, liver, cleaned gizzard.
  • 1/2 cucumber.  Skin completely if waxed or large.  Sliced fine.  (I used those baby Kirby cukes, hence the skin remains on.)
  • Drizzle of apple cider vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

METHOD (SIDES):  

Briefly sauté the chopped onion in a little oil, set aside.

Cook farro according to package, OR, put 2/3rds cup into 2 cups of water in your rice cooker.  Add onion, bouillon  (if not already using stock), and cumin seeds.  Add the optional organ bits.  Close the unit and cook.  (As an option, instead of some of the water, you can substitute in with home-made stock or broth.)

The rice cooker will keep the farro dish warm while any final steps need to be completed with the quail – including quail resting.

For plating, arrange the cucumber slices, the farro  dish, and the quail.  Spritz the cucumber with the oil and vinegar (or use a different dressing as you choose).  Provide a wedge of lime or lemon for each quail – this really does kick up the quail a couple of notches further.

Sit back.  Enjoy.  Use your FINGERS to eat quail!  You don’t want to miss any morsels of delight!


quail, recipe, farro, cucumber, roasted

quail, recipe, farro, cucumber, roasted

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Malted Mocha Milkshake

Contains: Dairy, gluten.  Is: Vegetarian, quick and easy.

If you leave out the “malt” portion of this, the treat is gluten-free.  

malted served

Making a malt means that one has taken a sprouted grain that was then quickly dried.  Barley is most frequently used.  For malt powder, this is ground down into that powder.   A malted milk powder consists of malt powder, wheat powder, and powdered milk.  

I worked with these two recipes, to create the best of a mocha milkshake with the malted vanilla one.:

I used whole (dairy) milk, but you can also experiment with others.  I might try oatmeal milk next time.   And obviously, any flavor of ice cream that goes with mocha is good.  

malted-ingredients

Prep Time:  5-10 minutes.
Cook Time:  It’s RAAAWW!
Rest Time: No. 
Serves: 1, possibly 2.  
Leftovers?:  Not amenable to that!

Malted Mocha Milkshake.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 1 cup coffee ice cream
  • 3 tablespoons malted milk powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cacao powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract.  

Combine all ingredients in a large container.  Blend with an immersion blender, or use a food processor.  You can leave the ice cream a bit chunky (my preference) or blend until creamy.

Pour into a suitable tall glass. Serves one.    

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I really loved the malted milkshakes of my mis-spent youth.  That malted flavor is something I’ve always enjoyed (maybe not so often in beer, but hey).  

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Strawberry Gin Smash

Contains:  Alcohol, added sugars..  Is:  A rather potent beverage.  

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I am using this recipe from The Kitchn.  It really sounded good.  For my purposes, I made half a recipe, and I made what I could a day in advance.  

Shared in person with my Culinary Boot Camp folk.  We got together this past Sunday.  Theme was to have a cocktail to match a food – I will need to make my food dish again prior to posting it, as I was running hectic Sunday morning, but it was a vegetarian semi-curry with Persian influences, using gin-friendly spices.  Oh, it had a tzatziki topping with cucumber, mint, cardamom, and nutmeg.  

(The below is served in a very tiny ounce-sized aperitif glass.)  

beverage, gin, strawberry, mint, alcohol, cocktail

Prep Time:  10 minutes.
Cook Time:  None.  Serve raw.
Rest Time:  Not essential, but soaking overnight is recommended.
Serves:  6.
Leftovers:  Of course.

Strawberry Gin Smash

INGREDIENTS (for a pitcher):

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Juice of 1 lime, about 1/8th cup
  • 1/2 pound fresh strawberries, de-stemmed
  • 1 cup gin  (You can always use rum instead, as gin can be a bit harsh)
  • Ice
  • 1.5 cups seltzer water (or club soda)
  • Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint.

METHOD:

Muddle sugar and lime juice in a pitcher that is able to hold 32 ounces (4 cups) or more of volume.  Set aside at least 4 strawberries for garnish.  

Slice up the rest of the berries into thin sections, and muddle in with the sugar/lime.  (PS:  couldn’t find my muddler, so I used my immersion blender to chop coarsely the strawberries in with the lime, sugar and gin, together….)

Add the gin and seltzer, stirring gently.  Pack pitcher full of ice.  Add mint as garnish.  

Pour into ice-containing glasses, and serve with a strawberry and a final sprig of mint for garnish.  The beverage will settle so stir gently just prior to serving.  

Make-ahead:  Do everything except adding seltzer water, ice or garnishes.  Refrigerate overnight.   Add everything else when serving.  This will also allow the strawberries to impart more flavors to the drinks.  

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS (to make single drinks): 

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 wedge of lime
  • 3 fresh strawberries, 2 with stems removed, and the final as garnish
  • 3 ounces gin
  • Seltzer water or club soda, to desired potency.
  • A sprig of fresh mint, for additional garnish.

For single drinks, use a tall glass.  Combine sugar and a squeeze of lime juice.  Muddle to dissolve the sugar.  Add sliced strawberries (two) and muddle some more.  

Fill glass with ice, and pour in gin.  Top with a little seltzer, and garnish with the strawberry and the mint.   

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Avocado Deviled Eggs, Redux: Avocado & Bacon

Contains:  Eggs, nightshade.  Is:  An appetizer.

 I brought these to a recent gathering.  You can always use hotter ground pepper than I did, but I was considering the audience.  (You could also experiment with a hot or smoky ground paprika.)

I made avocado deviled eggs some years back, without bacon, but I prefer this recipe to that (and you can always ditch the bacon, if serving for vegetarians, or by preference – this one, IMHO, is still better than the old).  Plus this new variant of an old recipe has a few notes appended!

appetizer, recipe, avocado, deviled eggs

Post most COVID restrictions in my area, I forgot to take photos, being so glad to see friends in the flesh again.  I apologize, but visualize stuffed eggs, lightly greened, with a sliver of bacon sticking up, and bits of cilantro/coriander leaf dribbled around. Photos instead are of raw ingredients… 

NOTE:  the eggs can be cooked and peeled the day before.  But the deviled stuffing should happen the day you plan to serve. 

NOTE:  With older eggs, you may discover that some eggs will float to the top of your pan’s water.  I discard those.  If they slightly rise, they are fine.  If they roll around on the bottom of the pan, they were probably just laid, and generally will not peel as easily. 

NOTE:  The best way to make sure your yolks are centered is to use a utensil (spoon or whatever) and move the eggs around in the water just before simmering water reaches a boil.   The egg is nowhere near solidified at this point, and the yolks will distribute themselves appropriately – I’ll remark I was multitasking that day, and failed to do so with one batch of my eggs….

NOTE:  The water is salted because this helps prevent eggs with hairline cracks from bursting their guts out all over the place.  Osmotic pressure is more equalized.  It will not affect the taste of eggs to do this.  I have heard that baking soda also has the same effect, but I’ve yet to experiment.  Mind you, some eggs will “blow” anyway, but you will have a lot less doing this.  I have a photo somewhere I may share that shows a boiling cracked egg with its innards staying… in. 

NOTE:  Peeling eggs – I’ve done this more with quail eggs than chicken eggs, but the idea is to take the finished boiled eggs and plunge them into cold water in a jar, then close the jar and shake it around until shells begin to crack.  Keeping the eggs in some sort of cold or tepid water, you can readily peel the shells off, because the water will come into the interface between shell and egg proper, to assist you.  . 

NOTE:  I always plan on buying extra avocadoes when I am planning a specific dish with them.  One never quite knows what one will find inside.  I open them up in order of perceived ripeness until I find one not browned inside, or too hard to work with.  (I lucked out on this recipe – the first one was perfect, and I can always find something for the rest! )

avocado, recipe, deviled eggs, bacon, chili

NOTE:  the lime juice will both provide a bright taste and also help keep the avocado from discoloring, at least for several hours.

Avocado and Bacon Deviled Eggs

  • 8 hard-boiled eggs. (I place in cold salted water, bring to a boil for 4-5 minutes, turn off heat and let them sit for about 12 more minutes in the hot water.)
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled.
  • Juice of 1/3 to ½ lime.
  • 1 tablespoon rinsed and drained capers. (Finely diced unsweetened dill pickle will also work)
  • 1-2 teaspoons chili powder. (Ground Ancho or Aleppo is also good for a mild deviled egg, but you can also blend in some hotter ground pepper if desired). 
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 2.5 strips of bacon, cooked until crispy (but not burnt). Break up into fragments.  Allow to cool, maybe 5 or so minutes.
  • Fresh cilantro, stems chopped into quarter to half inch segments, and leaves coarsely chopped, kept separate.

Cook and peel the eggs, then slice them in half longitudinally.  Drop the yolks into a mixing bowl, and arrange the whites on your serving dish. 

Into the yolks, add the avocado, chopped. 

Add the lime juice, capers, chili or ground pepper powder, salt and pepper, and cilantro stems.  Mix with a fork or spoon.  You can mix this as smoothly as you prefer. Should you wish very smooth, you can always add the cooked yolks, avocado, chili powder, salt and pepper to a small food processor and pulse until very smooth, then add the capers and cilantro stems.  I am fond of the “heterogenous texture” of most of my foods, so I did not do that. 

Now, add in most of the bacon fragments, reserving a tiny piece to be inserted into each deviled egg at the end.  Stir gently until incorporated.  Taste to see if the seasonings should be modified, and add more of what is lacking until this tastes right to you. 

Stuff the eggs.  I use a spoon and clean fingers.   You could use a pastry piping bag (or cut a hole in a zip-loc bag corner) and pipe in the stuffing that way, but that probably works best on a more homogeneous mixture than I prefer to use. 

Poke a small fragment of reserved bacon into the top of each deviled egg half, then sprinkle the cilantro leaves over the top.   Serve within about 3 hours, keeping chill until serving.  

Final thoughts – I added a few quail eggs into this recipe.  Obviously, I hope, one shouldn’t plan on just stuffing a whole batch of quail eggs – I don’t want to count how many that would require!  – but to hard boil these, I also start with cold salted water, let them come to a boil for 2-3 minutes, and then let them sit in the hot water with the cooktop turned off, for 5-6 more minutes. Their yolks ended up with the other yolks.

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A front yard lovely willow-family bush (or short tree). Do NOT plant near water sources especially if coming into your home!

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Homesteading in June, Here at Zone 5

Animal, Mineral and Vegetable….

homesteading

Four-legged friends: 

At the moment, there’s just Serenity the 19 and a half year old ragdoll cat.  It is not fair to her to bring in another cat (although she has a history of getting along with them for those 19 years, but she’s not going to want to deal with anything high-energy any more).  She sleeps 95% of the time, which even for a cat is a bit extreme.  I want her to enjoy her well-earned twilight years.  She lost her last buddy back September a year ago, and missed (perhaps even still misses) him something severe.  I really wish she could TALK!

Meanwhile, she has signs of kidney disease (is now eating a special diet), and has osteoporosis in her hind limbs (walks with a gait, and is hardly frisky, but still can jump on the bed).  She seems partially deaf now, too.   She’s strictly indoor, and never has been a mouser (unlike her now deceased compatriot, Obi-Wan).

Ragdoll cat

Other than in her kittenhood, before I got her, she’s never met any dogs.  And any dogs would also be high energy.  (I loathe basset hounds….)  I could get an outdoor-only livestock guardian dog (LGD) but I don’t have anything but chickens, quail, and potentially guinea fowl for the dog to guardian, yet.  I may not, until 2023.  There are some infrastructure and transportation issues I have to resolve here, first.

(Having a dog prior to retirement would have been problematic, due to working hour vagaries and so forth.  Yes, there are Doggie Day Cares, but that wouldn’t be a full solution for me.)

Planned livestock of the mammalian nature: 

Infrastructure is easy enough to plan for, and I hope to install the spring/summer of 2022.   My issue is my own transportation in winter.  I need further to research how I can get to the animals while swamped with ice and/or snow.   I had a scary, scary 20 plus minutes last winter when I fell returning from feeding chickens in what was a good 18 inches of fresh snow laden over a previous foot of the same stuff.  I ended up having to “swim” via backstroke down to the nearest coop, and pull myself up, there.  And darkness was fast falling.  The livestock I want will need more attention than just about any chicken.

I am considering:   Snowshoes.  (But if you still fall…?).  An ATV.  A snow-worthy mini-tractor?  Another thought is to install sturdy posts say about 20 or so feet apart down to the livestock barn.  With grab bars on them.  Maybe make a road down there that can be plowable every time we get snow.  Working on ideas, and we shall see.  I’d rather NOT put in a road for a few reasons, but again – we shall see.

I have researched the 4-legged livestock I want:  (choose two.)  All would need great fencing.

Sheep and more: 

Shetland, Soay and Icelandic appeal the most, in that order.  Smaller, than the lunky standards, and I like the idea of them being a bit wilder.  This may make herding near-impossible with a herding dog – but you CAN herd them, the same way you herd cats and chickens.  With food.  I would raise them for fiber and for meat.

Otherwise, or plus – this IS Of Goats and Greens, remember – Goats.  I am very interested in the Kiko breed.  With goats, I am interested in meat, although if I get a good cashmere type, I would go the fiber route.   No Dairy Please!  I am SO not milking animals of any kind day in and day out.  You don’t have a life that way, especially if you live alone.  (We already underwent 2020 with truncated lives… No Thank You!)  And finding someone to come in on, say, a weekend when you really want one away, requires much more expertise than having someone come in to check on feed and water and general visual health, should you want or need to disappear for a few days.

And again, otherwise or plus – alpaca.  For fiber.  And they are – well, just neat to have around.

Pigs, at any rate, feeder pigs, would be interesting, but I’ll be pushing 70 or so by the time I can even begin to consider them.  I think with the above being first in my list, they’d be more than I want to take on.   When I first moved here, I was informed about a man who comes around to do harvest work; if I ever did feeders, I’d need to verify and sign him up before getting the oinkers.

Pest control (mice): 

I have what are called rat-zappers for in the house and garage.  But they will always be able to re-enter the garage.  I can keep the house proper safe – I am now only getting about one a month zapped, and that includes the end of last winter when they’d be most likely to squat here.  But they love the chicken feed bin.  Suggestions are more than welcome!  Especially since along with mice come – ticks.

Chickens and future chickens: 

In a day or two, my broody Orpington hen should be hatching her eggs – and today I should put my own house-incubating eggs into “lockdown” – stop the rotator, add extra water for humidity, and hopefully around Thursday they will hatch.  My hen has seven eggs (possible mothers are also Orpingtons and/or a Rhode Island Red.  Dad will be a hybrid himself – his parentage is Plymouth barred rock combined with either another buff Orpington (different line) or with what is herself a hybrid:   Silver laced Wyandotte x buff Orpington F1 – said mother is of the same lineage as the other potential mother).  Making these notes for the purpose of records for genetics and cross-breeding.

homesteading, egg

Of the eggs I am hatching in the incubator:  I have nine here.   Three are from the tractor coop within which the above hen is brooding.  So, same actual father and potential mothers.  LATE BREAKING NEWS:  ONE OF THESE HAS JUST HATCHED AS I WAS DOING FINAL EDITS.  SHE ? LOOKS LIKE A BUFF ORPINGTON!  AND IS CHIRPING UP A STORM!  No photos, she’s still drying off and I don’t want to chill her by removing the incubator lid.

The other six eggs are from the second formal coop.  There, the paternal genes also come from Plymouth barred rock background, but pure.  Not related to any other roosters on the property.  Nor are the hens so related.  Maternal is Plymouth barred rock (again) and one buff rock.

I have candled the eggs (the ones indoors, not the ones with the broody mom), all are fertile but one of the eggs from the group of six looks to have a very small embryo – possibly/probably a failure there.

Plans for the chicks: 

Ideally, two new pullets from the second formal coop will eventually end up in the main coop (from which I’ve taken no eggs).  Two pullets (don’t know which) will be given to a local who wants them.  But gender will drive a lot of decision making.  I don’t expect most of the broody hen’s chicks to make it – but she’s a much more attentive hen than any broody hen I’ve had in the past – if she has one or two that survive and thrive, I’ll be happy.  Boys will be reserved for dinner – unless I need a replacement rooster between now and then.   At any rate, this time I’m prepared to have them at “Cornish game hen” size, because if I have as many as I think I might have – they’ll have to be frozen sooner rather than later.

Tally to date (but don’t count your chickens before they hatch: 

Main/Ovalicious Coop:  1 Plymouth barred rock (Roo), 1 black Australorpe hen (Yin), 1 (Silver laced Wyandotte x buff Orpington F1) hen (Chickpea).  Total of 3 – needs more hens.  May also house potential guinea fowl.

Tractor Coop:  1 (Plymouth barred rock, ie Roo x buff Orpington OR Chickpea) rooster (Romeo), 3 buff Orpington hens (no names – can’t tell them apart), 1 Rhode Island Red hen  (Rhoadie).  Total of 5.  Sufficient birds here.  I will let “Broody” raise whatever she has for a while.  Eventually foster mamas have fading interest – but if there’s one and it is a pullet, it may well stay.  TBD.

Second Coop:  2 Plymouth barred rock roosters (no names, they look alike), 3 Plymouth barred rock hens (again they look alike), and 1 buff rock (Henrietta).  Total of 6.  One rooster has to go.  Problem is, they are nice to me and to each other.  I just can’t.   There’d been a third rooster (White Feather) but he had to go – he was the most skittish, but still a nice bird.  But three roosters and four hens – the hens didn’t stand a chance!  But deciding between the last two is like a first-world problem Sophie’s Choice.  I am looking for someone who wants a rooster for their hens!  (I gave five cockerels away last fall to a man who has presumably cooked and eaten them by now – I didn’t have the space to raise them up to dinner size myself, but I was said to see most of them go.)

Future: 

Later this summer I will have a batch of Red Broilers arriving as day old chicks.  How I will handle these will depend.  But these are all intended for the freezer.  They weren’t friendly (unlike my poor late black broiler hen that was too sweet to dispatch) when I got them my first year here.  I plan to attempt to build my own tractor housing for them – small, hardcloth wire with ropes I can use to pull, and a lot less heavy than the Tractor Coop, which I am unable to pull.  (Even the guy who brought it here had to strain to move it.)

Guinea fowl:

I may be getting a few guinea fowl eggs from a neighbor soon.  More on that if/when it happens.  Their purpose in life, should they thrive, will be to EAT TICKS!!!!!  And if they get to the stage of life where they would thrive on ticks – believe me, here they will.

Quail: 

Ah, yes, the Coturnix quail.   Baby quail die if you look at them cross-eyed.  Baby quail find unique ways to commit purposeful suicide.  I’ve grown experienced enough that they don’t die from drowning in their waterer, but they find other unique methods of dying – or sometimes they just keel over.   If they weren’t something that I could keep (when “mature”) just outside my back door, I’d give up on them.  Besides, their eggs are tasty.  But I think Coturnix have been home-bred so long back in their native Japan, they haven’t a clue how to survive anymore.

homesteading, quail, coturnix, housing

Hanging by the door, waiting to escape?

But if someone tells you that another person “eats like a bird” – they weren’t referring to quail.  And, ounce for ounce, they excrete far more than any chicken could.  Sloppy eaters, too – food flies everywhere.  I have to figure out the best system to prevent that – I’m thinking some sort of small plastic tub where I cut holes in at head height.  Large enough for them to fit their heads and necks into.  Heavy weight enough they don’t knock it over.   If I come up with something that works – there WILL be a blog post about it!

I have them in “quail condos”.  This overall unit is 4 levels tall, with a unit on each side with a feeding zone that supposedly they can’t enter full-body – just heads.  Nope, even with jumbo quail, that doesn’t work.  What is supposedly 8 condo units is thus reduced to four, and the fact that the bottom one I consider to be too close to the ground (rodents, snakes…) effectively I have three condo units.  In conjunction with the feeding thing, I am plotting out the best method to turn this into a six condo setup (ignoring that bottom level all together).

homesteading, quail, coturnix

Ahhh! Tasty treats!!!

I also need a better method for keeping them from doing “fly outs”.  Often one or two will try to get out when I open doors to feed/water/collect eggs.  They drop to the ground, I snag, and put back.  This always? works.

Except when it doesn’t.  About ten days ago, I had one that did just that, dropped to the ground, looked around herself, noticed the weird appendages on either side of her torso… stretched them as the human hand reached down – and FLEW!  Granted, only about fifteen feet, but when she saw the clumsy human attempting to pursue, she decided she liked the feel those appendages gave her, and dove off again – about 25 or so more feet over rocks I’d have to navigate around rather than through.  When I got there, she was gone.  For good.

Sadly, she seems to have been my best layer.  I now get an egg from that unit (only four birds are left from that setup) every other day.  I’d been getting one or two a day.

homesteading, quail, coturnix

Enjoying the water!

Currently, I have a total of 23 quail.  Some are male, so I may try some breeding later this summer.  I do have one quail from a very small batch I tried incubating on my own last year.  I’d incubated those 3 eggs last summer with some I’d ordered elsewhere.  But I have to admit, I now have enough quail that I plan to roast a couple (finally).  Been seriously looking forward to this.

Mineral: 

There are still a lot of rocks around here, and the fellow who will be helping me with my tractor mowing told me he can help me with those extra rocks later this summer.  Oh, this is glacial New England.  So, yes, ROCKS.

I also want to build the firepit with the collected rocks and stones friends and I have gathered over a bunch of years.  That pile is here – it just has to be moved.   Most I can wheelbarrow over, a few at a time.

Vegetable: 

homesteading, flowers

Some are for pleasure; some are for eating.

The potatoes and all the alliums are thriving.  The potatoes are a combo of red, Yukon gold and some random gold potato that was available when I wanted some additional seed potatoes at my local feed store.  Perhaps about half or more of the potatoes I planted were from last year’s remainders that had gone to seed.  Or to sprouting, which is a more accurate description.  This is GOOD.

onions, garlic, homesteading

Garlic and onions. The onions are close together because i will harvest some as spring/green onions, and allow the resultant spacing enable the onions to go to true onion size.  They were all planted last autumn.

The alliums are doing fine.  I planted both garlic and onion last fall – they are apparently doing well, but too soon to harvest.  I put in leeks this spring – they are a bit behind the curve, but they are growing.

homesteading, alliums, leeks, bok choy

To the far left, more onions. Followed up by leeks, which did not get planted until this spring (hence, smaller) followed by bok choy, and then several nightshade veggies (tomatoes and peppers), and a splattering of herbs.

Perennials 

Rhubarb, strawberries, asparagus, saffron – still around.  Although the leaves on the saffron have died back – maybe this is normal?  Hope not, as I want a fall harvest for a tasty Indian rice dish.   The rhubarb and asparagus are not for this year’s eating.  My wormwood has come back.

Nightshades:

Starts from tomatoes and pepper seeds failed.  But I have some I bought as seedlings growing.  They’ll be fine.  I do have to up my edible nightshade sustainability here.

Legumes: 

My first year trying these.  I may add in a lightweight trellis should these tasty fellers request it.

homesteading, snow peas

My absolute favorite legume is the snow pea (followed by the black bean). Might try the latter next year!

I am doing snow peas this year.   Looking forward to seeing and eating them!   They went in as seeds but about ten days later than I had planned but they should still do well with sufficient water.

Other veggies: 

Swiss chard, collards and spinach.  I also need to plant my cucumber seeds this week.

Herbs: 

High hopes for parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, as the song says. The sage from last year has returned.  The sorrel should do well, too.  Oregano, unlike the stuff I had back in Connecticut, hasn’t seemed to want to do the perennial thing here, not yet.  There’s also cilantro out there, which never lasts long much as I try to help it.  Basil seeds have to go in soon.

Shrubs and trees: 

Four elderberries, awaiting planting soon

Four elderberries, awaiting planting soon.

An apple has returned, my dogwood is dead, and I am planning more apple and some plums as soon as I am tractor mowed.  Ready and waiting!  As are my elderberries, which will go in at the same time.  Seriously these would be LOST in the undergrowth currently here!

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Chinese-Style Fried Quinoa, with Pork and Egg

Contains: Eggs, nightshades. Is:  Gluten-free.  There are tasty vegetarian suggestions towards the bottom of the recipe.

quinoa, fried, pork, Chinese,

Not all that many months ago, I posted a Fried Rice blog post.  But recently on Cooking Bites, a foodie BBS, I thought about a challenge regarding quinoa… Why not try something more or less in an eastern Asian theme?  And just have fun, without claiming veracity on methodology or history?  (Quinoa is not an element in Asian cuisines.)  Okay, and yes, my goal is also (obviously) to make the dish taste good!  Basically, what I wanted to do was make fried rice, but with day old cooked quinoa instead.  

For this, I chose a red quinoa.  Choose as you choose.  

In the photo below, we’ve just added the egg to the center of the skillet, with most everything else pushed to the side.   I don’t have a wok (I need to find one that will work on an induction cooktop, which is the only disadvantage I’ve seen about induction.) recipe, fried quinoa, egg, pork, Chinese

Prep Time:   You’ll need to make the quinoa the day before, or use leftover quinoa. For day of serving: – 15-20 minutes.
Cook Time:  For day of serving -15 minutes.

Rest Time:  Not needed.
Serves:  One.
Cuisine:  In the Chinese style.
Leftovers:  Sure.

 

Chinese-Inspired Fried Quinoa, with Pork and Egg

  • A heaping 1/3 cup quinoa.
  • 1.5 teaspoons of a good cooking oil, for initial quinoa preparation.
  • 4-5 ounces pork, preferably cut from the shoulder region.  Another option is boneless skinless chicken thigh meat.  Remove fat, cut into small pieces.
  • 2-3 teaspoons cooking oil.
  • 1-2 ounces canned sliced water chestnuts, drained, and cut further into halves or thirds.  
  • About 2 ounces of bell pepper, any color, sliced. 
  • 1/4 teaspoon Szechwan peppercorns. 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.
  • 1 beaten egg.
  • 1 scallion/green onion, chopped

For multiple people – double / multiply all ingredients except the eggs – 1 egg can serve one or two people.  

METHOD: 

Make the quinoa the day before.  Use 1x of quinoa to 2x of water.  Cover and refrigerate.  

Day of use:  

Remove quinoa from fridge, and set up the mise en place,  

In a skillet (or wok!) on medium to medium high heat, bring the oil to temperature.  Add the pork and stir fry until nearly done (about 5 minutes).  Add the water chestnuts.  Add the quinoa. and then immediately add the Szechwan peppercorns and Five Spice powder.  Stir fry for another 3 minutes, then add the bell pepper.  Stir again another minute or two, depending on how crisp you like that bell pepper.   Taste and adjust for salt and ground pepper. 

Now, push all the ingredients to the side, leaving a hollow area in the center of the skillet.  To this, pour the beaten egg.  Allow it to firm up on one side  – if you mix too soon, it will just blend into the rest of the dish.  This should take 1-2 minutes, but judge for yourself.  Flip the egg, and allow for another minute or so on the other side. 

Break up the egg into small pieces while still in the pan (a spatula is handy for this), and gently mix into the rest of the dish.  

Here, you can either add the scallion/green onion now, or you can plate and add these pieces as a garnish.  

Serve warm.  

(For vegetarians:  You can substitute the meat with shiitake or button mushrooms.  Should you use dehydrated shiitake, re-hydrate in advance and use the rehydrating water as your water in the initial quinoa-making step, being sure to cover well the re-hydrated mushrooms themselves overnight.  Another idea would be tempeh or tofu, in small pieces, best if marinated in your favorite Asian marinating sauce overnight.)

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Meso-American Chocolate Beverage

Contains:  Nightshades.  Is:  Quick and easy, savory, vegetarian, vegan, keto.  

This one may well be an acquired taste.  Simply:  be forewarned!  This is New World Aztec, Mayan, or Meso-American.

recipe, aztec, mayan, mesoamerican, savory, chocolate, cacao, beverage

The various pre-Columbian tribes and nations that occupied current-day Mexico and Guatemala made use of the cacao bean we’ve come to know today as the confectioner’s delight — chocolate.  One of those nations was comprised largely of the Aztec people, and as this particular preparation is associated with them in the literature both of the times and now – I’ve named this drink, “Aztec Chocolate Beverage”.  But this or similar variants were common through a large part of central America prior to the coming of the Spaniards.  (It was the Spaniards who brought the cacao bean back to Europe, where it got played with, and doctored, into so many new permutations, mostly of the sweet sort.  

Theobroma cacao is a small evergreen tree which grows no taller than about 25 feet / 8 meters in height, and is native to Mesoamerica, surviving only in tropical regions.  Much of what is grown these days has been transplanted to Africa (and intensively in the nation of Ivory Coast).  

cacao, aztec

Cross section of a cacao pod, with beans inside. Photo by Keith Weller, USDA-ARS, public domain.

Aztec Chocolate or Spanish Chocolate Drink Recipe | CDKitchen.com

The inspirations here are ancient, some of the methodology is modern.  

For the chili, I chose ground Guajillo. It has a low to moderate heat, and a wonderful ancillary flavor.  For less heat, try Ancho, perhaps.  Or for more, and limited subtlety, go Cayenne.  

Mixing and frothing was obviously a bigger, time-consuming deal back in pre-Columbian and early Columbian  times.  I use modern tools today.  

Prep Time:  5 minutes.
Cook Time:  Enough to boil some water.
Rest Time:  Not essential.
Serves:  1 serving each.
Cuisine:  Mesoamerican.  (Aztec, Mayan….)
Leftovers:  You can, and re-heat.  Or drink at room temperature, after stirring again.  

MesoAmerican Chocolate Beverage

INGREDIENTS:

1 ounce / 30 grams unsweetened baking chocolate, shaved or grated, OR 1 ounce unsweetened cacao powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup / 160 mL boiling water
ground chili to taste (I used Guajillo chili powder, starting with 1/4 teaspoon, but feel free to start at 1/8th teaspoon.)  

METHOD:

Grate the unsweetened chocolate (OR measure the unsweetened cacao powder into a bowl or perhaps a mortar), and cover with a small amount of boiling water. Mash the mixture into a paste, if you are using the baker’s chocolate bar. Add the rest of the water and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer or hand mixer until frothy. Add the chili powder, and mix further.  

The chocolate may not totally dissolve, especially with the baking chocolate bar, and will have a grittiness to it. For a more authentic drink let the mixture cool to room temperature, and then beat further until frothy.   I have a mini-frother for my coffee maker (should I want espresso) so I used that.  Drink and enjoy, but do NOT expect sweetness!

If you wish to make more of a Spanish concoction, add some sugar and milk.  This actually grows (slowly) on me!   Although I listed this as one serving, you may want to try the one serving among several people at first.  Those small Japanese tea cups might work nicely in such a case.  

But, I stayed with the pre-Columbian South of the Border variant!  

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