Monday, December 10, 2012


Posole is often referred to as the "Bowl of Blessedness" by those in the Southwest and Mexico. Posole is the mother process for curing or preserving corn.  Posole is made by soaking white corn kernels in ground limestone and water and then dried.  This stew is very flavorful and just fabulous when you top it with the cilantro, fresh lime, radish slices and shredded cabbage.
On my website,, I have a copy of my syndicated story I wrote for the Los Angeles Times several years ago.  This story gives a great more detail of the history.

Posole is not to be confused with hominy, which is prepared with lye--a corrosive chemical which destroys the cellulosic coating.

(Dried Corn with Pork and Red Chiles) 
 You may serve this either as a side dish or main dish. I like to layer toppings such as fresh shredded cabbage, fresh lime wedges, avocado cubes and cilantro sprigs.
 Yield:  15 to 16 servings
1 pound dried posole
1 quart water, or more
2 pounds pork, steak or roast, cut into ½” cubes
1 Tablespoon salt or to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
pinch of Mexican oregano
1 Tablespoon cumin, or to taste
¼ cup caribe chile or to taste
1. Simmer the posole in unseasoned water until it becomes soft and the kernels have burst open; it usually requires 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
2. Brown the pork cubee in a cold, well-seasoned frying pan; adding no fat or oil to the pan. Saute until very browned, then add to the posole.  Deglaze the frying pan with 1 cup water, stirring to loosen the brownies sticking to the pan.  Also add this liquid to the posole.
3. Add remaining ingredients, using one-half the cumin and cook the stew for 1 or more hours, to blend the flavors.  Just before serving, add the remaining half of cumin.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.  Ideally, this dish should be started the morning before it is to be served, to allow the flavors to develop.
Notes:  In Old Mexico the following toppings are often served and posole is a main dish and often called the Chicken Noodle Soup of Mexico--good for curing colds and ills:
        2 cups thinly shredded fresh cabbage
        2 limes, cut into wedges
        1 avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into cubes
        1 bunch cilantro sprigs
In Mexico, posole is often spelled with a “z” instead of an “s”.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Salsa Verde

This recipe for Salsa Verde is very easy to make and is very versatile--it can be served as a dipping salsa, a garnish for meats, seafood and poultry or as an ingredient in such dishes as Lime Rice.  It also freezes quite well, requiring a bit of stirring to create the desired consistency.  Try it!  I know you will like it. 

An old Mexican favorite that is good over almost any meat or tortilla dish.  Tomatillos, available in Mexican specialty shops, should always be used.  Don’t substitute unripe green tomatoes, because they lack the subtle, sweet taste of the tomatillos.

Yield:  About 2 cups

2 cups quartered, fresh tomatillos
2/3 cup chopped onion
1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno chile or Serrano chile, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

1. If using fresh tomatillos, remove outer husk.  Quarter and place in one inch deep boiling water in a heavy pot.  Cover and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes or until color deepens and they are almost fork tender.  DO NOT OVERCOOK!

2. Remove tomatillos from cooking water with a slotted spoon, reserving the water. Process tomatillos in a blender or food processor until coarsely chopped.  Add remaining ingredients; process to combine, adding cooking liquid to create desired consistency.  Taste and if necessary, adjust seasonings.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Flour Tortillas

When making these flour tortillas, always add all of the water as directed.  The dough will be quite moist--add the least flour possible as you knead the dough for the most successful tortillas.  Getting the dough moist is the key to fluffy, thin wonderfully flavored tortillas.  Enjoy!!


These taste best when they’re fresh, however they freeze well for up to three months (only half as long as the corn tortillas).

Yield:  8-12 (6-inch) tortillas
4 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup lard, butter or margarine
1-1/2 cups warm water

1. Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Then add the shortening, preferably lard and mix until the lard is evenly distributed and resembles corn meal.  Add  water all at once, and stir  to form a rather soft dough; then turn out onto a board and knead until the dough is smooth, working in the least flour possible. Test for well developed gluten by stretching a bit of dough between your fingers.  When gluten is developed, the dough will develop strings.   Allow to it rest 10 minutes, covered with the inverted bowl.  

2. When the dough is relaxed and an inserted finger will sink easily to the bottom of the dough, divide dough into 12 equal portions and stretching dough and form each portion into a smooth ball.  Pat to flatten.  Cover the balls of dough with a moist towel.  

3. Preheat a well seasoned* cast-iron comal or griddle over medium heat.  Then, working with one ball of dough at a time, roll into a round, thin disk, using a small rolling pin, known as a bolillo or if unavailable, use the smallest diameter rolling pin available.  Each disk should be about 1/8” thick.  When it is hot, bake the tortillas about 45 seconds on the first side, or until small brownish spots appear on the cooked surface.  Turn with a spatula and cook for just a few seconds on the other side.

Whole-Wheat Flour Tortillas:  To make whole-wheat flour tortillas, substitute whole-wheat flour for one-half of the unbleached flour.  Follow directions above.

*Note:  You may season a griddle by brushng peanut oil or vegetable oil onto the surface of the griddle. Place in a 400 F oven for 30 minutes, then turn heat off  and leave over night or until cool enough to touch. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Pinto beans cooked this way are amazingly delicious!  And, with pintos being the healthiest of all beans, it is so wonderful to know this easy to make and yummy recipe.  They freeze amazingly well and are a staple in so many Southwestern, Mexican and Tex-Mex recipes.


More highly flavored than ordinary beans, these can be served as is as a side dish or as a main course with sliced ham on the side.  In any case, top them with chopped onions and pickled jalapeno chiles.  Corn bread is a must.

Yield:  2 quarts or 4 to 6 servings

1 pound dried pinto beans
1 ham hock, ham bone or ½ pound salt pork
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup coarsely chopped Spanish onion (1 medium to large onion)
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
3 or 4 cups rich chicken stock or as needed

1. Rinse and sort beans, picking out any foreign objects.  Place beans and ham hock in a heavy 5-quart pot.  Add enough water to come about 3 inches above the level of the beans and meat.  Boil 10 minutes, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, uncovered.  

2. Add the pepper, garlic, and onion and simmer 2 hours or until a bean will mash easily against the side of the pot.  Add chicken stock as needed to keep the liquid level about 1 inch above the level of the bean mixture.  When beans are done, cook to reduce the liquid to the desired consistency.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sonorran Salsa Verde

This rich, flavorful salsa comes from braising the tomatillos, then flavoring them once cooked with chipotle.  I personally like the fully flavored powdered traditional chipotle that we sell through our spice company, Pecos Valley Spice. Co.

You can enjoy this as a stand alone snacking salsa or as a salsa over poultry or pork.  Enjoy!


Searing the tomatillos makes them sweeter and more complex tasting.  The chipotles add a warm, smoky overtone.  Serve warm or cold as a dipping salsa or as a sauce with poultry, seafood or pork.

Yield:  2 cups salsa
1 pound fresh tomatillos
1/2 cup fresh onion, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 chipotles, reconstituted with 1 teaspoon vinegar and water (see note below)
2 Tablespoons chipotle cooking juice
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 / 4 cup fresh cilantro or Italian flat leaf parsley

1. Wash, husk and halve fresh tomatillos.  Place in heavy, cold skillet in a single layer.  Place over high heat and cook uncovered until the tomatillos toward the center become brown.  Then turn all tomatillos over, remove from heat and cover with a tight fitting lid.  Allow to steam until soft—at least ten minutes.

2. Add to blender with all ingredients except cilantro and blend until pureed.  If mixture seems thick, add additional chipotle cooking liquid or water to make desired consistency.  Add cilantro and pulse to mix well.

Note:  To reconstitute dried chipotles in the microwave, place them in bottom of 1 quart glass measuring cup.  Add vinegar and water to cover.  Cover with cellophane wrap and process on high power for five minutes or until the chiles are softened.  Reserve any remaining liquid and add to salsa.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mole Verde

A delightfully full flavored green mole from the Mayan culture. When I had my New York City Restaurant, the Pecos River Cafe, it was voted one of the healthiest restaurant dishes in the City by the New York Hospital Dieticians. Totally wonderful served with the Comino Rice from a previous You Tube and Blog.


Subtle and complex in flavor, this chicken is elegant enough to serve company. Don’t be daunted by the long list of ingredients; the dish can be mad in only about an hour. It’s absolutely wonderful in warmed fresh corn tortillas with at topping of guacamole and sour cream; you might also serve it over rice or with a side dish of stewed beans.

1 (3 lb) broiler-fryer chicken, cut for frying or chicken breast or thighs
About 3 cups chicken broth
2 Tablespoons juice from pickled jalapeno chiles
1 cup ground almonds
1 large onion, quartered
6 to 8 leaves dark green lettuce (romaine, leaf lettuce or outer leaves of iceberg lettuce)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup flat-leaf parsley springs
1 large clove garlic
6 fresh or pickled jalapeno chiles, stemmed
1/3 cup virgin olive oil
Salt to taste, if desired
12 corn tortillas, warmed, or 3 to 4 cups hot cooked rice
Guacamole, if desired
2 cups sour cream, if desired

1. Place chicken in a single layer in a large pot. Pour in broth and jalapeno juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 35 to 45 minutes or until tender. Cool in cooking broth. Lift chicken from broth (reserve broth); discard skin and bones and tear meat in chunks.

2. If you need to grind the almonds, grind them in a blender, using a pulsing action. Then preheat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet. When oil is hot, add the ground almonds and sauté until lightly tanned, about 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside.

Then, to prepare the sauce, in a food processor or blender, add a cup of the reserved broth, then process onion, lettuce, cilantro, parsley, garlic, and jalapenos until quite smooth. Add additional chicken broth, a few tablespoons at a time, until mixture has the consistency of whipping cream. Set aside.

4. Add pureed sauce to the toasted almonds and heat and cook until the sauce is somewhat thickened. Taste and adjust flavors. Then add the chicken and simmer together 10 to 15 minutes or until flavors are blended and sauce is hot.

5. Serve in warmed tortillas or over rice, topped with guacamole and sour cream, if desired.

Note: For a slightly lower fat and calorie version, reduce the olive oil to 2 Tablespoon and the almonds to 2/3 cup – any less really affects the flavor and texture.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bowl o' Red

Pecos River is the name of my spice company and was oringinally the name of the ranch I owned in New Mexico--formerly deeded by the King of Spain.  I learned my love of chili from my maternal grandfather, who was an executive with the Santa Fe Railroad in the late 1800's and early 1900's.  He was in charge of the tracks, both giving back surplus land, earlier claimed and determining the direction of expansion.  My grandfather developed this recipe after spending five years sampling chilis from the "cookies" who cooked for the cowboyts herding cattle to the various rail heads. 


The influence behind this recipe came from my maternal grandfather, who when working with the Santa Fe Railroad learned how to prepare it from the “cookies,” or trail cooks.  It has won numerous chili cook-offs and is one of the really true original chilis.

2 Tablespoons lard, butter, bacon drippings, or rendered beef fat
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3 pounds lean beef, cut into ½-inch cubes
3 medium-size garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup ground hot chile or to taste
1/4 cup ground mild chile
1 Tablespoon ground cumin, divided
About 3 cups water
1-1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste*
1. Heat lard in a large heavy pot over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until softened.  Remove from heat.

2. Add meat, garlic, ground chiles and half the cumin to the pot.  Break up any lumps.  Stir in the water and salt.  Return to heat.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 2-1/2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat is very tender and the flavors are well blended.  Add more water if necessary.  Taste and adjust seasonings, adding the rest of the cumin and determining the need for salt.

*Many times little or no salt will be needed.  If salt sensitive, wait to add salt until just before tasting