May 13, 2013

Dinner with Friends...

My friends Alejando (Alex) and his wife Katia had a baby boy, Matel, last November. I, of course, loved having another baby in our little apartment cove, but mostly, I loved having another mother. Because toys are so expensive in Mexico, Seth and I have brought back a few things for Matel or given some of the toys that Taelyn has outgrown. Alex and Katia, like all Mexicans, say, "Kristen, its too much. No. No." We as Americans never believe there is such a thing as too much. We also know that they really do want the things but are just being polite. So I made a deal with Katia. I'll give you Taelyn's old
walker, if you make me a traditional Mexican dinner and let me watch you cook. Deal!

Alex and Katia pulled out all the stops for our little get together. I went up to their apartment at 5:30, and Katia and I cooked and cooked and talked and talked until 8pm. It was soooo good. I mean, oh SOOOO GOOOD! I didn't think I could fit that much food in my tummy. God knows I wish I could have fit more.
First, we started with Tlacoyos as an appetizer. These can have chicharron (pork rinds), beans, cheese, potatoes, or a combination. Katia topped them with salsa taquera (which is my new favorite salsa) and queso fresco. They told us that this is an Aztec dish that can also be served for breakfast. Personally, I'd eat it for any meal of the day. They were that good.
Here is the beginnings of the main dish of the night...Pozole. Katia starts by pressure cooking the pozole with some bay leaves, garlic, and onion. In another pan, she gets the codillo (pork elbow) seared and ready to pressure cook. I don't think I've ever been in a mexican kitchen that didn't have at least one pressure cooker, if not two. Mexicans are known for using the stovetop for cooking and the oven for storing all their pans which is the complete opposite of Americans.

While those two pans are getting steamed up. She starts getting the guajillo chilis ready by sautéing them in oil, and then popping them in the blender to make the sauce. I didn't get pictures of the final step because dinner was running late. Alex and Katia took over the kitchen and Seth and I drank beer. I think we got the better end of the deal. Eh?

Then in yet another pan, Katia started the shrimp for the Caldo de Camarron which is a soup typical of the coastal regions. Its a pretty simple dish of tomatoes, onions, garlic, and shrimp. But what I've found in Mexico is the most simple of dishes end up being the best ones. Seth was so in love with this soup, he couldn't stop saying, "I love this soup." I think you get the point.

 Here we have the tlacoyo in all its glory. Salsa, cheese, and onion. Yum!

 My first bite of the shrimp. I had to agree with my husband that this was dang good.
But, this! This was my favorite dish. Pozole. Oh, pozole. You are my new best friend. I can't say that I've ever been a hominy kind of girl. But, I have changed my ways. This was cooked perfectly, and it hit all the right buttons. Just an explosion of flavors and textures in your mouth. The soup is served with just the hominy, pork, and broth. But, then you add avocado, lettuce, onion, and salsa to make one big happy, happy party in your bowl. Alex said this is a pretty typical hangover dish, and I could see why. You have your broth, starch, meat, and crunch from the lettuce. All the ingredients needed to make a body feel good after a late night out.

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