Oy……..man I can’t get back on the blogging train for some reason. I guess I don’t have much of an excuse for the last month or so but the last week has been absolute hell at work. The passing of MJ has rocked the world, and the entertainment news world has been in a frenzy. Since I live in both universes, it’s been bananas. And in this case, bananas is bad.
So even though Father’s Day was awhile ago, I am finally getting around to posting pics! My dad taught me to cook and instilled in me a love of good food and wine, so the only appropriate present is, well, food and wine of course! I invited my family over for a Mexican fiesta of sorts, and after much consulting with Homesick Texan, got to work on all of the dishes.
Two days before Father’s Day, I made a big ol’ pot of black beans. Actually I made two pots. Why? Well, I didn’t follow my instincts and decided to toss in the epazote (a Mexican herb I’ve never worked with) into the pot, despite its twiggy woodiness. I stopped and thought to myself, “maybe I should put it in some cheesecloth or whiz it in my spice grinder” but then talked myself out of it, thinking that the hours of slow cooking beans require would break down the fibers. I think you can probably figure out that the little twigs retained their twigginess after hours of simmering, and vain attempts to pick it all out were……uh, all in vain. So I packed it into a Tupperware and tossed it into the freezer (hey- I may come home from work starving one day and really want some homemade black beans, at which time little twigs won’t bother me) and promptly made another, this time putting the epazote into some cheesecloth. Crisis averted.
On the same day I made a paste out of guajillo and ancho chiles, cinnamon, coffee and other spices for a barbacoa- which is traditionally made with cow’s head but I went with a pork shoulder instead, slathering the marinade onto large chunks of meat and packing it all into a ziploc bag. After sitting in the fridge overnight, they went into a roasting pan lined with onions and carrots, covered tightly and placed into a low oven for several hours. The house smelled so good I think even my cat noticed!
After the main components were done, I just whizzed together some roasted tomatoes, onions, serranos, garlic and bunches of fresh cilantro into the blender for a quick salsa and made a basic guacamole. An entire head of red cabbage, green onions, cilantro, vinegar, sugar and olive oil made up a simple Mexican slaw. Then I started on the part I was most excited about……..making flour tortillas from scratch! I had seen this post on the aforementioned Homesick Texan site awhile ago and had always hoped for an occasion to make them for.
The dough came together quickly and easily, then after a short rest, I tore off 1 ounce balls of dough which, after another quick rest, were easily rolled out w/ a rolling pin and a touch of flour. 30 seconds on each side in a dry pan was all it took to turn into real, chewy, flavorful and toothsome flour tortillas! Some came out a bit thicker than others, and now I definitely have a better gauge on how thin to roll them out (since they get thicker as they cook). They reminded me a bit of Trader Joe’s Truly Handmade Tortillas since they were all slightly irregular in shape, but of course these were a lot better.
The meal turned out great- the meat was tender and flavorful, the beans rich and tasty….it was kind of nice to sit down to a make-your-own taco type of meal. Really casual, fun and interactive. We made a nice dent into it all but I packed my dad up with enough leftovers for one meal for him and my mom, plus I had lots of meat and beans for myself- I mean, this kind of food really does taste better the longer it sits.
A special thanks to Homesick Texan for helping and answering my incessant questions, and a shout-out to Papa, my dad, for being the best dad ever!