Well as my readers may have noticed the last week or so has consisted of 2 huge meals and tons of leftovers. It is time to get back to simpler meals! With that in mind—and the fact that we have had Indian and Thai most recently so I was ready to leave Asia for a night or two, I decided to take a peek at Zarela’s Veracruz, a cookbook I had acquired at the used bookstore in the last month or so. It has lots of interesting looking dishes that are not reminiscent of what we here in America think of as Mexican food. Zarela Martinez, the author, says that Veracruz accepted its Spanish influence more readily than, say, Oaxaca, and it is reflected in its food. This of course means that my attitude toward the food is a little more ambivalent—for example, I love the use of raisins but am not so enthused about the olives. But I have already earmarked several of the recipes to try.
I chose this picadillo for its use of raisins and capers. I love the sweetness of dried fruit in savory meat dishes, and capers are an olive-phobe’s friend, since they provide a similar briny touch in a much smaller package. This picadillo was originally intended as a stuffing for dried peppers and therefore called for all of the ingredients to be finely chopped or shredded; we ate it as a hash with chunkier components. Because of my youngest, I still followed the instructions to chop the raisins, but otherwise I would have left them whole. I served it over Mexican white rice pilaf, which my husband loved, but for me it just diluted the yummy flavors of the picadillo. The second night I ate it with the rice on the side, not underneath.
I also wanted to share with you a lemon poppy seed bread that I made for the girls for breakfast this week. If the zest of 3 lemons seems like too much for you, by all means reduce it. We like our lemony baked goods very lemony in this household! I apologize for the lack of good photos of it–as those of you with children can imagine, when I am getting breakfast on the table and then running out the door to my youngest’s storytime at the library, it is not a good time to stage food!
Veracruzan Picadillo de Pollo
Adapted from Zarela’s Veracruz, Zarela Martinez
3 T vegetable oil (I used olive)
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups shredded rotisserie or roasted chicken (I used all breast meat)
2/3 of a 15 oz can of Fire Roasted diced tomatoes with chiles (I use Muir Glen)
1 ripe plantain, peeled and finely chopped, or, if too mushy, just mash it
6 T dark raisins, chopped
2 T capers
1 t dried thyme
1 t dried Mexican oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Crumbled queso fresco for garnish
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil. When it shimmers, add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the chicken and plantain, and stir to distribute evenly. Mix in the tomato, raisins, capers and dried herbs. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the flavors are well blended. Taste for salt and pepper.
Serve with crumbled queso fresco on top and maybe, preference depending, some sort of Mexican rice pilaf underneath.
Lemon Poppy Seed Bread
1 cup AP flour
2/3 cup white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t EACH salt and baking soda
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
Zest from 3 lemons (or equivalent lemon oil)
1 ½ T lemon juice
2 t poppy seed
Grease one 8x4x2-inch loaf pan. In a medium bowl whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda and poppy seeds. Make a well in center of dry ingredients and set aside.
In another bowl combine egg, milk, oil, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add the egg mixture all at once to dry mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy).
Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake in a 350* oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove and cool completely on wire rack. Wrap and store overnight.