Mexican Style Bolillos ~ Learning New Techniques

Words like Authentic, Original and Traditional are words I try to avoid when describing  my recipes. In the past, I have been guilty of using these words. I believe with my whole heart that our family recipes are sacred and special to each of us. In our eyes, no one can prepare mom’s red rice or frijoles a la charra. That’s just the way it is. My family’s recipes as well as recipes I develop  on my own, I would call them authentic, original and traditional. But they are only authentic, original and traditional to me. I could never label them as such and share them with those labels.

A couple of years back, I came across a recipe for “Mexican” Bolillos and could not wait to try it out. I am not going to say it was the easiest of recipes, at first. But over the past three years I have prepared the recipe several times. Thanks to social media, there are many tutorial food videos from Mexico that show different versions on the recipe.  I found a method that worked best for me and I liked it. My parents were not bakers, but they certainly were awesome Mexican cooks in my eyes. No recipe is set in stone and that’s what makes cooking fun for me. Make the recipe your own and enjoy your time in the kitchen. The original recipe was adapted from a special issue of Better Homes and Gardens of all places. Now my question would be, where did it originate from??? This is my journey.

Bolillos, Pan Blanco, Pan Frances and Birotes are just a few of the most common names used to describe the mexican bread.
Bolillos, Pan Blanco, Pan Frances and Birotes are just a few of the most common names used to describe the mexican bread.

Ingredients:

4 cups of flour, plus more for dusting
1 package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon  sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water or milk

The dough for bolillos must be covered lightly during proofing while it rises. it will stick a little, but bakes up fine.
The dough for bolillos must be covered lightly during proofing while it rises. it will stick a little, but bakes up fine.

 

Directions:

1. In a large bowl combine 1 1/2 cups of flour,yeast, sugar, and salt, add warm water. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the flour as you can.
2.Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6 to 8 minutes). Shape into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface. Cover and let rise, in a warm space, for one hour.

 

3. Punch down after 1 hour.Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 6 equal parts, shape into oval shapes, pulling and twisting slightly. Transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use a sharp knife to make a cut about 1/4 inch deep along the center of each roll. In a small bowl, combine the egg white and water. Brush the tops and sides of the rolls. Cover with wax paper and a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 30 to 45 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Here is another great tips I learned for baking breads. Place a baking dish on the bottom rack of oven while it is preheating. Right before baking the bread, fill hot baking dish with 1 cup of room temperature water. This will create steam and also result in a crisp exterior on the bread. Bake the rolls for 15 minutes. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for another 10 to 13 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire racks. Rolls can be frozen for up to 3 months in a freezer bag. This recipe is perfect for making Mexican tortas or for that big bowl of menudo on Sunday morning!

These are some of the different shapes you can create. The egg wash is optional, but I do like the finish.
These are some of the different shapes you can create. The egg wash is optional, but I do like the finish.

Tips: To create the longer, birote-style roll, take the dough ball onto a lightly floured surface and using the palm of your hand, press it out to extend. You are looking for a 6 inch circle. Fold it over like a taco and again using the palm of your hand, press to spread out slightly. Fold again towards seam and twist and extend the ends for that signature shape. Brush with egg wash and let rise according to directions.

 

Cilantro Chile Crab Cakes

Once or twice a year, I splurge a little and prepare crab cakes made with real lump crab meat. With a  few added ingredients, this recipe for Cilantro Chile Crab Cakes makes for a delicious starter or light meal. Since there is only my husband and myself to cook for on most days, this is a nice recipe to prepare when you want a special dinner for two.

My friend Jennifer lives in Maryland and she is always commenting on how delicious Maryland crab are. I hope to one day soon be able to taste them for myself. For now, I will attempt to prepare my best version of a New York crab cake, lol! With hints of Mexico, of course!

Cilantro Chile Crab Cakes
Cilantro Chile Crab Cakes

Ingredients

1 cup lump crab meat
5 saltine crackers, crushed fine
1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon hot sauce, your choice
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 fresno chile pepper or jalapeño, minced
1 egg, ligtly beaten
1/3 teaspoon pepper
1/3 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons Olive oil

Fresh Ingredients, Delicious Crab Cakes
Fresh Ingredients, Delicious Crab Cakes

Directions

1. Combine all of the ingredients listed, minus the olive oil, in a bowl. Make four equal cakes and transfer to a plate lined with wax paper. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to an oven safe skillet and preheat to medium for 3 minutes. Brown the crab cakes for 2 minutes per side, transfer whole pan to the oven and finish cooking for 10 minutes. Serve with lemon/lime wedges, garnish with cilantro and hot sauce. Yields 4 cakes.

Cilantro Chile Crab Cakes
Cilantro Chile Crab Cakes

Tips~ When forming the crab cakes, gently press and form with the palms of your hands. Don’t skip chilling the uncooked cakes. This helps the cake firm up and stay together during cooking.

Pork Belly Recipes~Spicy Pork Tacos with Serrano Jalapeño Salsa

For the longest time I have been wanting to cook a recipe that involved pork belly. The problem was that I could not find it in any of my local markets. Finally last weekend while shopping for some beef at my new favorite market, I stopped dead in my tracks! Pork Belly!!! A three pound pack for only 6 bucks…What?? I was so excited I forgot all about the beef! LOl!!

So the first thing I do is call on the help of my good friend and diehard foodie Alan Choat. Thanks to facebook and a food group that we both belong to, we met and became instant friends. As far as I am concerned, Alan knows everything when it comes to cooking pork. He suggested the Asian inspired spices and  an easy cooking method.  It was to die for! Of course the first thing I thought of was tacos, pork tacos. So delicious! Check out the next post below for Carniceria Style Chicharron en Salsa Roja.

Sriracha Seared Pork Belly Tacos
Sriracha Seared Pork Belly Tacos

* This recipe requires overnight marinating

1 1/2 pounds pork belly

1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice, optional
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Pork Belly with Chinese Five Spice
Pork Belly with Chinese Five Spice

For Salsa
6 serrano peppers
2 pickled jalapeños, diced
1 small red onion, sliced into thin strips (1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
Salt to taste

You will also need
1/3 cup sriracha hot sauce
8 to 10 corn tortillas
Cilantro for garnish

Sriracha Seared Pork Belly Tacos with a Serrano Jalapeño Salsa
Sriracha Seared Pork Belly Tacos with a Serrano Jalapeño Salsa

Directions

1. Combine the sea salt and Chinese five spice in a small bowl. Season the pork belly on both sides, add the soy sauce and rub in to season all over. Place the pork belly on a plate and refrigerate overnight uncovered.

2. Remove pork belly from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Place the pork , skin side up on a wire rack, lined with a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 500 degrees, lower temperature to 325 degrees and roast for another 90 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool before slicing.

3. While the pork is cooking, prepare the salsa. Combine all of the ingredients in the order listed. Stir well to combine, season with salt to taste. Cover and set aside.

4. Preheat a large skillet to medium heat for 5 minutes. Slice the pork into 1/2 inch thick slices or thinner if you’d like. Add to hot pan and cook until pork starts to brown nicely. Toss with sriracha hot sauce and cook just until warm. Serve with warm corn tortillas and salsa. Garnish with cilantro. Yields 4 servings.

Tips~ The only real tip I can offer is to double the recipe and freeze half of the pork belly for later! It’s that good, lol!!

 

Carniceria Style Chicharron en Salsa Roja. Once you learn to cook your own pork belly, you can freeze it and use it in countless recipes. And when I prepared my pork belly recipe from above, I knew I would be making my own Carniceria Style Chicharron en Salsa! July, 02, 2014

Carniceria Style Chicharron en Salsa Roja
Carniceria Style Chicharron en Salsa Roja


*Meaty pork chicharron made from slow cooked pork belly

1 pound cooked pork belly, sliced into 1/2 in. pieces
1/3 cup onions, diced
2 serranos, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
Splash of water
Salt and pepper to taste

 

Carniceria Style Chicharron en Salsa Roja
Carniceria Style Chicharron en Salsa Roja

 

1. In a cast iron pan on medium/low heat, add the sliced pork belly. Cook for 35 to 45 minutes or until the fat starts to render out and the pork becomes crispy in most spots. If it’s too dry, you can add a tablespoon of oil. A faster version would be to deep fry them, but I prefer this method.

2. While the pork is cooking, add the tomatoes to the blender, along with a splash of water. Blend until smooth, set aside.

3. Add the onions, serrano and garlic to the pork and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce from blender, mix well, lower heat and cook until it becomes thick and reduces. Taste for salt. Serve right away with beans, warm tortillas and avocado slices. Yields 4 servings.

Carniceria Style Chicharron en Salsa Roja
Carniceria Style Chicharron en Salsa Roja