Day One in Mexico: Hospicio Cabanas

Posted on

If it seems like I’ve abandoned my blog, I haven’t. The past few weeks have been incredibly hectic, with a trip to the state of Jalisco, Mexico sandwiched right in between. I had been planning for a few months, and though my passport renewal hadn’t yet arrived (thank God for the temporary lift on passport requirements to the region), I took a red-eye flight to Guadalajara anticipating nine jam-packed days of musueums, distilleries, mercados, futbol, and the ocassional adventure or two. I’ll be documenting the trip here, so the cooking entries will be postponed for a bit. But don’t despair – I took plenty of food photos in Mexico!

I was starving after the flight, long line through customs, and cab ride to the hotel, but my first meal was pretty disappointing. Exhausted and groggy, I stumbled a few doors down my hotel to Restaurant Bar Familiar, a dimly-lit space with more liquor options on its menu than food. Perhaps I should have taken that as a sign, as my camarones al mojo de ajo was more like a plate of overcooked shrimp with bacon bits and mushy, unpleasantly sweet rice on the side:

Resturant Bar Familiar

After lunch I walked back to where I was staying, Hotel Frances. Built in 1610, it is Guadajalara’s oldest hotel and a national monument. Despite the noise from the street and the late-night mariachi music from the downstairs bar, its charm was worth the stay:

Hotel Frances

And the views weren’t bad either. Directly across the street from the balcony was the Palacio del Gobierno (Government Palace), hence the police cars parked outside every day:

View from our window

After a short nap, I started exploring the city, starting with a walk through Plaza Tapatia. The plaza, like so many others throughout the Centro Historico, boasts a number of beautiful fountains, not to mention lots of mariachi, since I happened to be in town for the annual International Mariachi Festival.

Plaza Tapatia

Plaza Tapatia

I ended up at Hospicio Cabanas, or Cabanas Cultural Institute, one of the oldest and largest hospital complexes in Latin America, founded in 1791. Today, it houses a wealth of art, including Jose Clemente Orozco’s allegory of The Man on Fire, a series of huge frescoes created during 1936-39. Painted following the Mexican Revolution, Orozco’s socially-charged murals are all over Guadalajara’s public places.

Hospicio Cabanas

Hospicio Cabanas

Hospicio Cabanas

Hospicio Cabanas

I was hungry after all that exploring, so I stopped for dinner at El Mexicano Restaurant Bar. It looked promising, I swear. I was dreaming of grilled beef, burned ever so slightly at the tips for that perfect charred flavor. Instead I got a sorry, withered plate of what looked like steak:

El Mexicano Resturant Bar

I may have had some trouble finding good eats on our first day in Guadalajara, but our search eventually unearthed some gems. It turned out to be a pretty delicious trip after all.

Crepes with Carmelized Apples, Rum Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream

Posted on

i don’t make desserts often, partially because i don’t have much of a sweet tooth and partially because i usually second guess my method if i’m baking. but every once in a while, i stumble across a recipe that instantly becomes a favorite, one of those i know i’ll turn back to time and time again. crepes with carmelized apples, rum sauce, and vanilla ice cream is one of those:

also:

spaghetti with scallops, white wine and chile-butter sauce


steamed asparagus with anchovy butter


calamari, papaya and cashew salad

here’s the recipe for the crepes:

3 eggs
1 cup milk
5 T dark rum
6 T butter
1 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 c flour
3 lbs medium golden delicious apples, peeled, quartered, each quarter cut into 3 wedges
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup apple juice
2 T lemon juice
1 t grated lemon peel
vanilla ice cream

1. mix eggs, milk, 2 tablespoons of the rum, 2 tablespoons of the butter, sugar, salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a blender until smooth. add flour in 2 additions, blending until smooth after each and scraping down sides of the container. let batter stand at room temperature for an hour.

2. heat nonstick skillet with 7-inch diameter bottom over medium-high heat. brush with melted butter. pour in 3 tablespoonfuls of crepe batter, rotating and shaking pan so batter covers bottom evenly. cook crepe until golden on bottom, about 45 seconds. turn crepe over and cook until light brown in spots, about 30 seconds. turn crepe out onto paper towel. repeat with remaining batter, brushing pan with butter before making each crepe.

3. melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in large skillet over high heat. add apples, saute until deep golden and tender, tossing often, about 15 minutes. add sugar, apple juice, lemon juice, lemon peel, and remaining 1 teaspoon cinamon. simmer until juices thicken and apples are very tender, turning with spatula, about 3 minutes. remove from heat.

4. butter large ovenproof rimmed platter. arrange crepes on work surface and spoon apples into center of crepes, dividing equally and leaving sauce in skillet. fold 1 side of crepes over filling; roll up, enclosing filling. arrange on platter, seam side down. stir ru into sauce in skillet. bring to boil, stirring.

5. preheat oven to 350F. spoon sauce over crepes. bake until warm, about 10 minutes. serve with ice cream.

Cheesy Zucchini and Red Onion Flatbread

Posted on

this recipe was almost a disaster, as i accidentally placed all the toppings before transferring it to the baking sheet, and in the process of trying to move it made a huge mess. in the end, i resurrected it and it came out wonderfully.

Cheesy zucchini and red onion flatbread

Ingredients:

nonstick spray
1 lb whole wheat pizza dough
3/4 cup garlic and herb cheese spread
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 T chopped parsley
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 thinly sliced zucchinis
olive oil
red pepper flakes

1. preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray baking sheet with nonstick spray.
2. roll out dough to 1/2 inch thick. spread half of herb cheese over 1 long half of dough, leaving 1/2 inch border. sprinkle with half of parmesan and 2 tablespoons parsley.
3. fold plain half of dough over filled half. spread remaining herb cheese over top; sprinkle with remaining parmesan.
4. arrange 1 row of zucchini down 1 long side of the dough. arrange onion slices in row alongside zucchini. repeat with zucchini and onion until surface of dough is covered. brush vegetables with oil; sprinkle with salt and red pepper.
5. bake bread until puffed and deep brown at edges, about 24 minutes. sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley.

in other news, i finished reading christopher de bellaigue’s in the rose garden of the martyrs: a memoir of iran. considering that most iranian memoirs are written by iranians, it was a fresh look into a european’s take on modern iran, and namely how the revolution and iran-iraq war has shaped it. and with all the headlines about iran lately, i highly recommend rageh omaar’s bbc documentary inside iran. it’s easily one of the best documentaries i’ve seen on the subject.

Ferry Building Marketplace

Posted on

so my updating habits have gotten a little sporadic. things will be back to normal soon, really. in any case, last week was my birthday and i spent it with with a friend at the ferry building marketplace in san francisco, which happens to be my favorite place in my favorite city.

to begin our day of tasting, we had brunch at tsar nicoulai, where we split a sturgeon chowder in a bread bowl, served with tennessee hackleback caviar on a blini. it was tiny, but the caviar was delicious. (not as delicious as caspian osetra caviar, but you’ve got to be insane to pay for that outside of iran.)

it was so cold outside
birthday wishes in the freezing cold. (seriously, why is it so cold this year?)

afterwards we walked around, sampling and admiring the goods (the scent of the roast chickens for sale was unbelievable), and finally gave in and bought this beauty:
gorgeous
romanesque broccoli. almost too pretty to eat. almost. we decided that it would go into a salad alongside cheese and prosciutto.

we stopped by cowgirl creamery where i salivated for a few minutes before i decided on the roncal – kind of like a manchego but nuttier.
cheese!
in awe of all the choices. can you see why i love this place so much?

our last stop at the ferry building was mastrelli’s delicatessen, where i picked up some prosciutto di parma, and then we drove to north beach for cappuccinos at caffe trieste. before we headed back to the east bay for the evening, we stopped to have one of our favorites – lomo saltado, for dinner at fresca. not bad for a day’s worth of gastronomy.

Crispy Chicken and Kimchi Potstickers

Posted on

anyone who knows me knows of my affinity for korean cuisine. and of my affinity for kimchi. and more specifically, my affinity for all things banchan. i can think of nothing better than an array of small plates to complement a plate of bulgogi or japchae. naturally, i relish the taste of kimchi in my dumplings.

Kimchi and chicken potstickers

recipe:

1 t toasted sesame seeds
1/3 c + 1 T soy sauce
1/4 rice vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 lb ground chicken or turkey
1/2 lb kimchi, drained and finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
2 t cornstarch
1/2 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1/4 pepper
gyoza wrappers
2 T vegetable oil
1 c water

1. in a small bowl, stir 1/3 cup of the soy sauce with the vinegar, water, garlic, 1 green onion, and sesame seeds.
2. in a large bowl. combine and mix the ground turkey with the kimchi, remaining green onions, egg, cornstarch, sugar, remaining soy sauce, salt and pepper.
3. place gyoza wrappers on a work surface and lightly moisten the edges of the wrappers with water. place a spoon of the filling on one side of each wrapper and fold in half to form half moons. press the edges of the wrapper firmly to seal. repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.
4. in a large, nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. add half of the potstickers to the skillet. pour in 1/2 cup of the water, cover and cook over moderately high heat until the water has evaporated, the filling is cooked through and the bottoms are browned, about 10 minutes. transfer to a serving platter and repeat with the remaining oil, potstickers, and water. serve with the dipping sauce on the side.