The recently hired coat check hostess said most of the opening day staff are still working at Pampano of New York City (there’s another location in Qatar). The evening celebrating the launch of Pampano’s ten year anniversary tasting menu of popular dishes, guests murmured about the friendliness of the staff based on their past visits. Before the event started, the staff finished preparations by placing small vases full of yellow roses on various tables. The bartender stood behind a table expertly arranged with wine, tequilas, fruit purees and garnishes. The evening was an unusually warm Tuesday in March, in between two frigid, cold days. As the event started, the waiters carried out trays of food. I carefully balanced my mango sangria in one hand, made sure the camera was securely around my neck, and tasted Pampano’s empanadas.   Read more

Zucchini Flower Quesadilla

Since making a full recovery, my weekends are super busy with events, and I barely have time to catch up on household chores, running errands… and this blog. These days, my priority is to have fun outdoors to make up for being indoors during the summer solstice. I’m searching and creating recipes with prepping and cooking times totaling less than an hour. This fast and simple quesadilla recipe is long overdue as I’m hoping zucchini flowers are still on the market.

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A Farmer's Market Find: Cosnes
A Farmer’s Market Find: Cosnes

Getting up early last Saturday was the opportunity to go to the farmer’s market in the city. It was a nice winter warm day of walking pass stalls and creating a menu in my head for next week. Before it became too crowded, I was exiting the market with a heavy bag of Savoy cabbage, spicy turkey sausage, a smoked turkey wing to be placed in the freezer for Southern-style collard greens, gold rush apples, freshly baked pretzels as a low-fat snack, apple cider, and crosnes. Read more

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

I wish this shop was in my index of places to shop for Mexican produce before I made a Mole sauce. A New York Times short article, Flavors of Mexico, Made Fresh in Manhattan, is an article/advertisement for this little shop selling dried chilies, epazote, avocado leaf, Mexican oregano, and imported coco-cola sweetened with sugar instead of corn syrup.

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Chicken Mole Enchiladas

This is a faux, non-traditional Mole sauce, because a slower cooker, a food processor, a blender and store-brought grounded spices were used to shorten the prepping time. The tomato sauce is the fool’s proof technique of preventing a bitter taste. If these steps in this recipe appear laborious, then compare the prepping steps of a traditional mole sauce.

Traditional mole sauces require time, commitment, and attention to details. There are many versions representing Mexico’s regions. Each tedious step is crucial to the final result. It’s not a last minute sauce made on a weekday, nor is it a soup that uses old ingredients before they spoil (Many delicious chili recipes are made by “cleaning out the fridge” with old ingredients). Spices are brought whole and individually toasted before grinding them finely with a mortar and a pestle. The bitterest chocolate is used not for its false look of sweetness, but its inner soul of taste. Corn tortilla shells are fried to a crisp and turned into a mealy texture. Along with corn tortillas, nuts and sesame seeds thicken the sauce to harmonize the complex ingredients, and its raw taste will melt away. Ancho chilies are seeded, because the seeds will add to much spicy heat to the pot. Mole sauce requires a weekend of prepping and cooking. It’s why it’s traditionally made for weddings and special occasions.

Using a slow cooker allows other projects requiring the same amount of time, commitment and attention to details to be completed as a traditional mole sauce. Depending on a schedule, the sauce will cook in a slow cooker for at least four hours on high to ten hours on low heat. That’s many hours of freelance work that could be completed. Prep the ingredients in the morning for an exotic meal in the evening. It’s nice to appear as if I have my life together all of the time.

Between freelance projects and personal commitments, this was the best weekend to make a mole sauce. Simply not true. As stated above,

Traditional mole sauces require time, commitment, and attention to details.

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