Apples with Cajeta and Pecans

Manzanas con Cajeta y Nuez

Apples with Cajeta and Pecans

Apples with Cajeta and Pecans

This is not so much a recipe, but a simple preparation that makes for a delicious Autumn dessert.  Pecans and cajeta go so well together.  I was first introduced to the combination when Emma and I were in Valle de Bravo last January.  My aunt Lupita (whose new nickname is Guadalajira) taught us a simple dessert, which was just campechanas topped with vanilla ice cream, cajeta, and pecans. Campechanas in Valle are flaky and crunchy pastries similar in texture to a baked puffed pastry or phyllo.  The word “campechana” is used for other foods in other areas.  Although it is so easy to put together, the dish feels like one of the most indulgent things you can allow yourself.  And you should indeed allow yourself!

Because I don’t want to put together such an indulgent dessert if I am eating alone, I came up with something a little lighter, but to the same effect.  All this preparation requires is thinly sliced apples (I prefer green varieties like Ginger Golds or Granny Smiths) topped with cajeta and toasted pecans.  You will need 1 apple for 2 people, 2 tablespoons of cajeta (max!), and 2 tablespoons of nuts.  Each ingredient goes a long way.  It is as simple as it looks, but there are a few things I should mention.  Apples turn brown if they are cut and left out.  So if you are going to make this for anyone but yourself, be sure to slice them right before serving, or keep them in water with a few squeezes of lemon juice in the fridge.  Toast the pecans an allow them to cool before chopping them up.  They will not be as crunchy and provide a nice textural difference to the cajeta if you chop them right after toasting, or if you don’t toast at all.

I love the crunch of the fresh apples, which is slightly sweet and slightly sour.  The cajeta is what makes this dessert, as it is rich and indulgent, but a little goes a long way.  And the nuts add more crunch and depth to this.  You will love this simple preparation with Fall’s favorite fruit!

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Portabello & Poblano Tacos

It has been a long time since my last post.  I feel like Autumn is slipping through my fingers- all of the sudden we are at the end of October! I have been cooking a lot, but have not had a chance to experiment with some of the Mexican recipes that I have on my mind.  This is a super simple dish using two ingredients that I constantly find winking at me every time I go to the farmers market: poblano peppers and portabello mushrooms.

I love poblano peppers, because they are slightly spicy, but also a bit bitter.  And mushrooms are magical.  I don’t ever seem to crave mushrooms, but when I am actually eating them I can never get enough.  Poblanos and portabellos go surprisingly well together, and are further accentuated by the yogurt cheese I add in at the end.  It is quite difficult, if not impossible, to find Mexican Manchego cheese here in New York.  I often sub in a mild goat milk gouda for my Mexican recipes, but today I used a simple yogurt cheese.  I think that it most closely compares to Manchego, with an ever-so-slight sharpness that sits so happily inside a tortilla.

This is actually a fajita-style dish, where the ingredients are quickly seared together in a pan, and then eaten in a taco.  Did you know that?   The verb is taquear, and you taquea the contents of the pan, which is the fajita part.  Cool, right?

Poblano & Portabello Tacos

Poblano & Portabello Tacos

Portabello & Poblano Tacos

1 poblano pepper, trimmed and rinsed

1 tablespoon lard or sunflower seed oil

½  red onion

2 portabello mushrooms

½ cup vegetable or chicken broth

¼ cup chopped or shredded yogurt cheese or mild gouda or manchego

4 corn tortillas

Roast the poblano pepper over an open gas flame or in a hot oven until charred on all sides.  Remove from heat and place in a paper bag or in a bowl covered with a towel for 15 minutes.  When the pepper is cool enough to handle, peel off the skin.  Remove the top, de-vein, and then slice into thin strips.  Meanwhile, slice the onion across in thick strips.  Heat up the lard in a skillet until smoking and add the onion.  Season with a little salt and keep moving the onion around.  Slice the portabello in half, and then in thick strips, similar in size to the onion.  Add to the pan and toss.  Add the vegetable broth, which should immediately simmer, and cover.  When the mushroom is just about cooked through and most of the liquid has been absorbed, add the poblano pieces.  Heat up the tortillas and top with the sautéed vegetables and cheese.

Serve with a red table salsa like Valentina or Salsa Bufalo.

Serves 2 people with 2 tacos each.