Friday, October 23, 2009

A Favorite Flavor from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

For three generations, the women of Mercedes Arteaga Tovar's family have lovingly prepared Chiles en Nogada.

There are many versions of this specialty of the San Miguel de Allende area. This one, however, is served at Mercedes' beautiful Restaurante Bugumbilia in San Miguel.

I and a small group of other Society of American Travel Writers members were blown away by the dish when we dined there in mid October.

I E-mailed Mercedes on the off chance that she would share the recipe and she graciously agreed.

As she said, "I am like you, when I taste the Chiles en Nogada; my mouth is full of happiness and sweet water-like joy. Of course, and with pleasure I give to you the recipe of my version of Chiles en Nogada. I mean very clear, it is my version, and my mother's and my grandmother's version."

Bugumbilia Chiles en Nogada


1 Tbs. oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds ground beef
2 pounds tomato puree
1 cup of sliced pecans
1 cup of sliced almonds
1 cup of raisins
½ cup of chopped citron
1 stick cinnamon
Salt, black pepper, thyme, marjoram, bay leaf, cloves, black pepper, sweet peppercorns and sugar to taste.

The filling can be made one day ahead:

1. Place oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the ground beef and cook until browned. Add the tomato puree, raisins, almonds, pecans and citron. Cook for another 15 minutes.

3. Season with all the herbs, spices, salt and pepper. At last add the sugar.

4. Cook for another 10 minutes.


8 Poblano Chiles
Oil for frying
1 cup white vinegar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 Tbs. salt
1 Tbs. sugar
1 small onion
1 garlic head
Fine herbs

1. Make a small cut in the chiles and deep fry them in oil until blistered.

2. Place the chiles in a large bowl and cover with a damp cloth for 30 minutes to steam.

3. Peel the chiles. Cut a slit down one side and remove the seeds and large veins.

4. Place the vinegar, oil, salt, sugar, onion, garlic and herbs in a large pot of warm water.

Let marinate for a least 12 hours or overnight.

Cream topping:

8 cups sour cream                 
3 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
2 cups chopped pecans
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup pomegranate seeds
shredded lettuce
10 radishes

1. Beat the topping ingredients, except for the radishes and pomegranate seeds.


Stuff each chile with a sufficient amount of the filling. Place on a platter covered with shredded lettuce and radishes. Top with the cream mixture. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Serve, sit back and share the compliments Mercedes Arteaga Tovar, her mother and grandmother have received for generations.

Because it can be served warm, tepid, room temp or cold, Chiles en Nogada is a perfect, make ahead luncheon or dinner party dish. Add some bread, a desert and you're done.

Note: This is the first of several posts that will feature recipes from Mexico and the wonderful chefs I recently encountered there.

I'd love to get your favorites too. Do you have another, preferred version of Chiles en Nogada? Send it in and I'll post it. Have you eaten something else wonderful in Mexico? The food there is nothing like the Mexican food we tend to get in the U.S.A.

Oh, and for more posts on traveling through the state of Jalisco, go to my other blog,  Travel on the Level.

 Look forward to hearing from you!


Monday, October 19, 2009

More Sweets from the Big Easy

Gourmet Kristi Casey Sanders, editorial director and chief storyteller for Atlanta Metropolitan Publishing, found this "Famous Praline Recipe" from The New Orleans School of Cooking and Louisiana General Store while cleaning out her desk.
"I love pralines. The first time I was in New Orleans, when I was 19, I ate at least one, sometimes as many as three every day with my friend Megaton Matt. We couldn't stop trying them."

These were her favorites and now you, too, can try them.

New Orleans School of Cooking and Louisiana General Store Pralines

1 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup milk
6 Tbsp. butter (3/4 stick)
1 1/2 cup pecans (roasted is optional)
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients and bring to a "softball stage" *(238-240 degrees), stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Stir until mixture thickens, becomes creamy and cloudy, and pecans stay suspended in mixture.
Spoon out on buttered waxed paper, aluminum foil or parchment paper. When using waxed paper, be sure to buffer with newspaper underneath, as hot wax will transfer to whatever is beneath.
* When you place a spoonful into a glass of water, it sticks to the side.

To roast pecans, bake them on a sheet pan at 275 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until slightly browned and fragrant.

Praline sauce (add 1/2 cup corn syrup to mixture)
Chocolate covered praline candy
Flavored Pralines (chocolate, coffee, brandy, etc.)

Louisiana General Store: 524 St. Louis Street, New Orleans, LA 70810

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Remembering New Orleans

Louisiana in general and New Orleans in particular are foodie havens where it's easier to find a remarkable meal than to find a bad one.

Friend and frequent traveler Janis Noe of Marysville, WA, was reminiscing about a trip to the Big Easy and shared a favorite experience.

After spending all day eating our way around New Orleans and planning to turn in early, we found ourselves in front of Arnaud's at 5 p.m. and not very hungry.  I insisted on going inside for Bananas Foster.
  The restaurant was empty.  As my husband and I crossed the foyer toward the tuxedo-ed Maitre d' I felt a little intimidated.  My husband asked if we could just order dessert and he looked at us as if we were very strange, but after the slightest hesitation he snapped, "Why NOT?"  
  He led us into the empty and cavernous main dining room (which I understand from guide books is reserved for tourists), seated us, introduced us to our waiter and we enjoyed the fabulous show that followed.
  The recipe will get you the Bananas Foster, but in order to enjoy the full spectacle of the Arnaud's presentation you'll have to take a pinch of cinnamon and rub it between your fingers, releasing it a little at a time high over a flame so it sparkles as it catches fire on the way to your plate.  It wouldn't hurt to wear a tuxedo while you're doing it.

Bananas Foster
4 TBS butter                                          4 bananas, cut in half lengthwise then halved
4 scoops vanilla ice cream                     1/2 TBS cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar                                4 TBS banana liqueur
1/4 cup of rum
Melt butter in a flambe pan over an alcohol burner. Add the sugar, cinnamon and banana liqueur and stir to mix. Heat for a few minutes then place the bananas in the sauce and saute until soft. Add the rum and allow it to heat, then tip the pan so that the flame causes the flame to ignite. (You can do the same thing over Sterno or on the stove top, lighting with a match, if you must.)

Allow the flame to die out, tipping the pan with a circular motion to prolong the flaming. Serve over vanilla ice cream.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Beer Lovers' Salmon

Juneau, the starting or stopping port for a cruise through Alaska's Inside Passage, is also home of the Alaskan Brewing Co. Their brewmasters have pleased many a tourist from the lower 48 and inspired many a cook with their Alaskan flavored recipes for beer lovers.

During a tour of the facility a number of years ago, I left with some of those recipes as well as an appreciation for Alaskan Amber. However, because Alaskans keep it to themselves, we have to substitute. Make-do with any other well-brewed amber beer, but do put the real thing and the spectacular state that inspired it on your bucket list.

Alaskan Amber Glazed Salmon
1/4 cup amber beer                              4 TBS butter
2 TBS honey                                          2 TBS brown sugar
1TBS lemon juice                                   1 TBS soy sauce
1 tsp ground cumin                               1 tsp lemon pepper
Splash of liquid smoke

2 lbs fresh wild salmon or halibut

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat then reduce the heat to low and allow the sauce to reduce slightly. Remove from the heat and cool. May be made in advance and kept refrigerated until ready to use.

Coat fish with glaze and grill over medium heat or broil, basting frequently. Watch closely to prevent burning. Cooking time depends on the type of fish and its thickness.

Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Recipe supplied by Tom West, production assistant

For information on Alaskan Brewing Co. and more beery recipes, go to
For information on Juneau, go to
For my feature story on cruising the Inside Passage, go to