Pollo Asado~ Smoky Chicken Tostadas

I cannot tell you all how happy I am to see that spring has finally arrived in New York state! It was the coldest and longest winter I have ever experienced here in 29 years….lol! So, every sunny day, which have not been many, I try to schedule some grilling time. On this day, we grilled a few foods and then we put some dry rubbed chicken thighs on for a low and slow smoke. It was pitch black night time, but there we were doing our thing, ha, ha, ha! This recipe is really a no fuss recipe if you ask me. We enjoyed the chicken as is  for a few days and then with the last two pieces, I prepared some tostadas with our grilled and smoked salsa and hot sauce. So here’s to a great grilling season, a warm spring and a hot summer! Ok, maybe not so hot… #girlongrill #chilehead

 

Smoked Chicken/Pollo Asado

Smoked and Grilled Chicken

8 bone in, skin on chicken thighs (about 4 1/2 pounds)
4 to 5 tablespoons Weber Brand Carne Asada Seasoning or your favorite spice rub
Oil for brushing onto grill grates

Directions

1. Generously add carne asada seasoning/spice rub all over chicken, making sure you get some under the skin on top. Use your hands to rub it into the chicken. Place in baking pan with cover or heavy plastic storage back. Marinate overnight.

2. Remove chicken from refrigerator 1 hour before cooking. Set up your grill for indirect grilling at a temperature of 250 degrees F. If you want to add some smoky flavor, add a few applewood chunks near the hot coals 5 minutes before adding chicken. Or if cooking on gas grill add wood chips to a smoker box. Close lid for a few minutes.

3. Brush grates on cool side with oil. Add the chicken, skin side up on cool side of the grill. Close lid and cook for about 2 hours or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165 degrees. Pull off the chicken as it reaches the desired temperature. When done, transfer chicken to a dish, cover loosely and let rest for 5 to 7 minutes. Yields 4 servings.

Tips~ Oven method for chicken. In a large oven safe skillet, add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and heat to medium. After a few minutes, add the chicken, skin side down and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Turn over and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn skin side up, cover pan and finish roasting in a preheated 350  degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes.

This has to be my absolute favorite way to cook and eat chicken thighs.
This has to be my absolute favorite way to cook and eat chicken thighs.

 

Smoky Chicken Tostadas

Smoky Chicken Tostadas with Smoked Pico de Gallo, Grilled Chile Pepper Sauce and Sauteed Peppers
Smoky Chicken Tostadas with  Avocado, Smoked Pico de Gallo, Grilled Chile Pepper Sauce and Sauteed Peppers

2 smoked chicken thighs, remove meat and shred

1 avocado, mashed
Lime juice
Salt to taste
4 tostadas
Smoked Pico de Gallo
Grilled Chile hot sauce
Sauteed sweet and hot peppers

After mashing the avocado, add a little lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the avocado onto 4 tostadas. Add chicken, smoked pico de gallo, sauteed peppers and grilled chile pepper sauce. I would add creamy black beans or pinto beans next time!

I love the colors that my camera on my phone picks up compared to the digital camera.
I love the colors that my camera on my phone picks up compared to the digital camera.
My favorite picture!
My favorite picture!

Smoky Chicken Tostadas

Smoked/Grilled  Pico de Gallo

Just a little smoke from some applewood chunks add such great flavor!
Just a little smoke from some applewood chunks add such great flavor!

8 roma tomatoes
3 large jalapeños
3 serranos
2 habaneros
1 whole bulb of garlic
1 small sweet onion
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

When it's time to use up excess produce, I like to prepare these salsa recipes on my charcoal grill. The flavors are a mazing
When it’s time to use up excess produce, I like to prepare these salsa recipes on my charcoal grill. The flavors are amazing
I know you will think I am crazy, but when I have time, I like to chop my salsa ingredients by hand. Sometimes they can get a bit muddled in the blender or food processor. But that's up to you.
I know you will think I am crazy, but when I have time, I like to chop my salsa ingredients by hand. Sometimes they can get a bit muddled in the blender or food processor. But that’s up to you.

 

Cut the top of the garlic bulb off before grilling. Grill ingredients on the idirect heat side of the grill for 45 to 60 minutes at 250 degrees F. I added a couple of applewood chunks so the salsa would have a smoked flavor. Let ingredients cool. Remove stems from peppers and peel garlic or if it’s soft enough, squeeze out into the blender or processor. Roughly chop ingredients and pulse to process or you can chop the ingredients by hand.I do this so I can add exact amounts that I want when mixing the salsa’s or chile sauce.  Add lime juice, salt and pepper. Fold in the cilantro.

Smoked/Grilled Pico de Gallo

 

Grilled Chile Pepper Hot Sauce

Preparing the salsa/hot sauce this way will preserve it for a few months in the refrigerator.
Preparing the salsa/hot sauce this way will preserve it for a few months in the refrigerator.

Ingredients

3 large jalapeños
3 fresno peppers
3 serranos
2 habaneros
1 whole bulb of garlic, top cut off and wrapped in foil
1 small sweet onion, quartered
Juice of 2 key limes
1 3/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
salt to taste
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water

The Red Fresno Chile Peppers are the only ones I have to peel when I grill them for salsa. The skins become tough to chew otherwise.
The Red Fresno Chile Peppers are the only ones I have to peel when I grill them for salsa. The skins become tough to chew otherwise.
Preparing your own hot sauce at home is much mor e economical
Preparing your own hot sauce at home is much more economical

Directions

1. Grill the peppers, onion and garlic on indirect heat for 1 hour. let cool. Remove stems from peppers and skins from garlic. Remove skins from fresno peppers as well because the skin may be hard to chew.

2. Roughly chop ingredients and transfer to the blender. Add the lime juice, vinegar and water. Pulse to blend as coarse or as smooth as you like. I like the pieces of peppers, garlic and onions in my hot sauce.

3. Transfer to a saucepan. Heat to medium. Season with salt to taste. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat slightly. Whisk the cornstarch and water together until smooth. Add to hot sauce in saucepan. Stir well to combine and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add cilantro.

Grilled Chile Pepper Hot Sauce

Latin American Cuisine~ Cooking Class Recipes

First thing I want to state, is that I am no authority on Latin American foods.  Although I grew up in a very Mexican household and learned some of the basic homestyle recipes from Mexico from my parents, Mexico is big and there are many regions that I still have not explored. I also know that I really enjoy the foods  from other parts of Latin America and I am eager to learn and to try recipes from all over the globe. The inspiration for this blog post came from the wonderful connections I have made in the past two years with many Latina Bloggers from many regions  of Latin America. They inspire me on a daily basis with their delicious food pictures and stories. On today’s blog post I have included some of the most popular dishes I have read about. I start in Costa Rica where  Sasla Lizano and Gallo Pinto are a staple to the daily menu. A fresh salsa, Chimol, form El Salvador. Hearty Arepas from Venezuela filled with Reina Pepiada and ending on a sweet note, Quesitos from Puerto Rico. A pastry filled with guava and sweetened cream cheese. There are many, many recipes with as many variations, but I tried to keep it simple , adding some ingredients that I like and with the ingredients that were available to me. These dishes will be on the menu at an upcoming cooking class that I will be teaching. It’s wonderful to be able to share the foods and recipes that I enjoy with others. Of course the next best thing would be to be able to visit these colorful places and enjoy the foods straight from the people of the those regions. Aprender de las madres y las abuelas. Buen Provecho!! I would love to hear back from anyone who grew up with these delicious foods!

 

Gallo Pinto (Black Beans & Rice)

Gallo Pinto~ Costa Rica
Gallo Pinto~ Costa Rica

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup rice
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon pepper
salt to taste

You will also need
More olive oil
3 /4 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
3 1/2 cups rice
2 cups black beans with broth
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon coriander
3 tablespoon Lizano sauce or Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat. Add 1 cup long grain rice. Saute and toast for 5 to 7 minutes or until rice become aromatic and beings to toast in some spots. Add the 2 cups of broth and all of the spices. Bring to a  boil, reduce to low, cover and cook for 14 to 18 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand.

2. In a another, large skillet, add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil and heat to medium. Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper, season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 5 to 7 minutes.

3. Fluff the reserved rice with a fork then add the rice  to the skillet with onion mixture. Stir well to combine. Fold in the beans with bean broth and all of the remaining ingredients. Taste for salt and cook just until warmed through. Garnish with cilantro. Yields 6 servings.

A typical breakfast in Costa Rica. Gallo Pinto Beans and Rice with and Egg, Plantains, Fresh Fruit, Salsa Lizano  and Sometimes a Fresh Salsa
A typical breakfast in Costa Rica. Gallo Pinto Beans and Rice with and Egg, Fried Plantains, Fresh Fruit, Salsa Lizano and Sometimes a Fresh Salsa
Papaya, Pineapple and Mango
Papaya, Pineapple and Mango

 

Lizano~ Costa Rican Salsa/Seasoning

Salsa Estilo Lizano~ Costa Rica. This recipe was adapted from  http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-lizano-style-costa-rican-salsa-176299
Salsa Estilo Lizano~ Costa Rica. This recipe was adapted from http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-lizano-style-costa-rican-salsa-176299

2 chile guajillo, stems and seeds removed
3 chile de arbol, remove stems, but not seeds
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
1 small carrot, diced
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons vegetable or chicken bouillon, in a powder

1. In a medium skillet at medium heat, toast the  dried chiles for 3 minutes, turning a few times, so chiles don’t burn. To the peppers, add water, carrots and onions and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the blender.

2. Add all of the remaining ingredients and blend on high until smooth. Taste for salt. If you are going to prepare the Lizano style sauce, I suggest you prepare it 2 days ahead. Store in refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

Salsa Lizano is a must at every kitchen table in Costa Rica! Used to season foods or as a condiment.
Salsa Lizano is a must at every kitchen table in Costa Rica! Used to season foods or as a condiment.

 Chimol~ Pico de Gallo ~ El Salvador

Chimol~ El Salvador. A fresh chopped salsa almost exactly as Pico de Gallo from Mexico, but with added radishes. In El Salvador, they would most likely not add the spicy chiles.
Chimol~ El Salvador. A fresh chopped salsa almost exactly as Pico de Gallo from Mexico, but with added radishes. In El Salvador, they would most likely not add the spicy chiles.

1 cup radishes, diced or sliced small
1 cup roma tomatoes, diced (I like to deseed the tomatoes)
1/2 cup red onion, diced or sliced thin
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
My Add-Ins:
1 red fresno chile pepper, seeded and diced
1 habanero pepper, seeded and minced
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine all of the ingredients. Taste for salt. Cover and let set for 30 minutes. The longer it sits, the more red it will become from the radishes.

The chilehead in me could not prepare this delicious, fresh recipe without adding some heat from the habaneros.
The chilehead in me could not prepare this delicious, fresh recipe without adding some heat from the habaneros.

 

Reina Pepiada~Venezuelan Chicken Avocado Salad

Reina Pepiada~ Venezuela. This fresh avocado and chicken salad became very popular when Miss Venezuela enjoyed a fresh made arepa filled with this delicious salad. Reina means queen and Pepiada means curvaceous women.
Reina Pepiada~ Venezuela. This fresh avocado and chicken salad became very popular when Miss Venezuela enjoyed a fresh made arepa filled with this delicious salad. Reina means queen and Pepiada means curvaceous women.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
salt and pepper


1 large avocado, mashed
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped fine
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 full tablespoons mayo
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, cooked and shredded

 

Directions

1. In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and jalapeño. Season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

2. In a bowl, add the avocado and mash until smooth. Add the cilantro,  lemon juice, mayo, cooked chicken breast and cooled onion mixture. Stir well to combine and taste for salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use. Serve as a filling for arepas with extra avocado slices.

Although many recipes I read called for raw onions or peppers, I prefer them to be sauteed when added.
Although many recipes I read called for raw onions or peppers, I prefer them to be sauteed when added.
Reina Pepiada~ Venezuela. Delicious for arepas, salad topping, crackers or crostini.
Reina Pepiada~ Venezuela. Delicious for arepas, salad topping, crackers or crostini.

 

 Arepas~ Precooked Corn Flour Cakes

Arepa Reina Pepiada~Venezuela
Arepa Reina Pepiada~Venezuela

1 1/2 cups hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of fresh cracked pepper
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter
1 1/2 cups corn,instant dough PAN brand
1/3 cup cotija or parmesan cheese, grated

**You will need more oil or butter for cooking arepas

1. In a medium bowl, combine the warm water with salt, pepper and olive oil. Gradually add in the instant corn dough and mix with your hand until dough forms . Finally, mix in the cheese.  Dip you fingers in some water and roll 4 equal dough balls, flattening them slightly. Transfer them to a plate and cover with plastic wrap.

2. Preheat a large skillet or griddle pan to medium/high heat for 5 minutes. With some water near, wet your hands and gently flatten the arepa dough balls and shape. They should be about 4  inches in diameter. Add the 1 to 2 tablespoons oil or butter to the pan and cook the arepas for about 4 to 5  minutes per side or until you get some nice browned spots. If you cook them in a large skillet, cover them with lid during cooking time and the steam with help them cook through and puff out slightly.

3. As arepas come off the heat, grab one using a paper towel, Using a sharp serrated knife, slice open 2 /3 of the way, making sure knife opens up the center to make  a pocket. It easier to slice them when they are still warm. Fill with Reina Pepiada or your favorite fillings. Yields 4 servings.

The finish on the exterior of the Arepas with vary depending on what cooking surface you use. The above Arepas were cooked in a cast iron skillet and the ther prepared ones were cooked in a nonstick pan.
The finish on the exterior of the Arepas with vary depending on what cooking surface you use. The above Arepas were cooked in a cast iron skillet and the ther prepared ones, below,  were cooked in a nonstick pan.
An arepa corn cake filled with reina pepiada, a fresh avocado chicken salad.
An arepa corn cake filled with reina pepiada, a fresh avocado chicken salad.

 

Quesitos~ Guava and Sweet Cream Cheese Pastries

Not only popular in Puerto Rico, but many Latin American countries have their own version of this delicious pastry dessert.
Not only popular in Puerto Rico, but many Latin American countries have their own version of this delicious pastry dessert.

1 puff pastry sheet
8 oz. cream cheese
8 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
1 cup guava paste

*eggwash for sealing pastries

 

Puff pastry is ideal for this recipe, but since I had some yeat dough leftover, I used that instead. The guava paste is typically sold in a block where Hispanic foods are sold.
Puff pastry is ideal for this recipe, but since I had some yeat dough leftover, I used that instead. The guava paste is typically sold in a block where Hispanic foods are sold.
Sometimes rolling your dough out on a rectangular wooden cutting board is a nice guideline.
Sometimes rolling your dough out on a rectangular wooden cutting board is a nice guideline.

1. In a bowl, mix the powdered sugar and cream cheese until smooth, set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. On  lightly floured surface, roll out dough and cut 2X2 squares. Fill diagonally down the center with 1 tablespoon sweet cream cheese and  1 tablespoon guava paste. Seal with eggwash. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes.  Let cool and dust with powdered sugar

* You can cut the squares bigger if you like a 4X4 size would make a nice individual dessert.

Quesitos filled with guava and sweetened cream cheese. Often prepared with puff pastry, but I had a little bit of a sweet yeast dough leftover from a previous recipe that worked well. This recipe was adapted from TheNoshery.com
Quesitos filled with guava and sweetened cream cheese. Often prepared with puff pastry, but I had a little bit of a sweet yeast dough leftover from a previous recipe that worked well. This recipe was adapted from TheNoshery.com

Sugar and Spice Mexican Pan de Dulce~ Soft Yeast Bread

For quite sometime I have been searching for a sweet, soft yeast dough for preparing empanadas. I have worked with several yeast doughs for pizza, Mexican sweet bread, conchas, pan de huevo and pan de muerto in the passed. Finally a few weeks ago, I saw a picture on Pinterest of what looked like those dark brown, soft pumpkin empanadas my Mom used to purchase at la panaderia. I quickly looked it up and as I read, it sounded just like what I was looking for. Of course the measurements were not in cups and teaspoons, but in kilos and grams. And a recipe with quantities that could feed a whole quiñceanera party, lol! So after a few conversions here and there and a few La Piña added touches, this is what I came up with. I cannot say enough about this dough recipe. If you like a dough that’s easy to work with and bakes up soft and stays soft for days, this one is it! nd the recipe for Pan de Huevo/Conchas that follows is revised from the first several times I prepared the  sweet bread. I had learn a few baking tips and was eager to try them out. The pan de huevo was also softer than all the previous time I had prepared it. It’s like I always tell myself when I feel unsure about something, “You will never know until you try”. Glad I tried, and tried and tried again…one never stops learning.

Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Soft  Yeast Dough  For  Empanadas 

A Mexican Style Yeast Dough For Empanadas
A Mexican Style Yeast Dough For Empanadas

Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Yeast Dough For Empanadas

Ingredients

4 cups bread flour, sifted
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/4 to 1 1/3 cups warm milk

Mexican Style Soft Yeast Dough

Mexican Style Soft Yeast Dough

After about 2 1/2 hours the dough doubled in size and turned a darker brown color.
After about 2 1/2 hours the dough doubled in size and turned a darker brown color.

 

Directions

1. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Cut in the shortening until you have small crumbles. Cut in the sugar and yeast until well incorporated.

2. Mix in the eggs and cinnamon. Gradually add in the warm milk until dough forms. Transfer to a flat surface and knead for 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise at room temperature for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

3. Once dough rises, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside. Pull off enough dough to make a 1 1/2 ounce dough ball. Roll out to about 4 inches in diameter. Fill with 2 tablespoons of filling. Fold over and press gently around the filling to take out any air. Gently press with the palm of your hand.

4. Using your index finger, make an indentation starting at one end of empanada. Push in and with your thumb and index finger slighlty pinch to seal. Do this all the way across open end. Repeat until done and transfer onto lined baking sheets. Brush the tops of empanadas with egg wash or milk and quickly sprinkle with turbinado sugar or toasted coconut on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Yields up to 24 empanadas.

Cajeta Filling
Cajeta Filling
Gently press out the air around the filling
Gently press out the air around the filling
Fluted edges
Fluted edges
Dough is very easy to work with
Dough is very easy to work with
I had some leftover pineapple filling and I topped them with some toasted coconut.
I had some leftover pineapple filling and I topped them with some toasted coconut.
Perfectly puffed out dough and very soft.
Perfectly puffed out dough and very soft.
The dough stayed perfectly soft for days!
The dough stayed perfectly soft for days!

 

Testing empanada dough requires cajeta, dulce de leche. No fuss filling!

 Tips~ I have tried several things to prevent the dulce de leche from leaking out of the empanadas. One is to whisk in an egg yolk with the dulce de leche before using it as a filling. The other is to brush some eggwash on the edge of empanada when you get ready to seal them. Either way, some may still leak a little. So what I do when they come out of the oven, is I take a spatula and lift the hot dulce de leche and smear it over the top of the empanada, lol! Hey, it works!

 

 

 

Pan de Huevo~ Conchas

Once you perfect that sweet yeast dough recipe, you can prepare a variety of Mexican style sweet breads.
Once you perfect that sweet yeast dough recipe, you can prepare a variety of Mexican style sweet breads.

Pan de Huevo ~Conchas

Ingredients

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
1 cup warm water (110 to 115 degres F)

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 to 1/2 cup shortening

4 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons anise seeds, optional
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 cups bread flour, sifted

Pan de Huevo/Conchas

For Topping
1/2 cup butter, room temp.
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup flour
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 teaspoons vanilla

Tips~ If you want a colored topping, you could add a few drops of food coloring while you mix the ingredients together.

Pan de Huevo/Conchas

Directions

1. In a bowl, combine the yeast, honey and water. Let set for 10 minutes.

2. Cream together the 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup shortening. Mix in the eggs, salt and yeast/water mixture. Place flour, anise seeds and cinnamon in a large bowl, make a well and add in the wet ingredients. Knead for 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl. Cover and let rise for 1 hour. Punch down and divide into 12 balls. Place on greased baking sheet, press down lightly. Cover loosely and let rise for 1 hour. I had a problem with the dough sticking to paper and towel, so I put some toothpicks in the rolls and covered them loosely with plastic wrap. 

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. While the conchas rise the last hour, prepare the topping. When ready, roll 2 tablespoons of topping into a ball and flatten into a round disc. Place over pan de huevo and score with a knife, careful not to cut into bread. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container with a slice of sandwich bread. This will help them stay moist for a couple of days. Best thing to do is to enjoy them while they are fresh.  Yields 12 Pan de Huevo/Conchas.

1Pan de Huevo/Conchas

Pan de Huevo/Conchas

Pan de Huevo/Conchas

Tips~ If you have a difficult time working with the topping, you could brush the rolls with milk or eggwash. While they are wet, add some of the crumbled topping on top. Bake as usual.

Tips~ To help dough rise, preheat oven to 200 degrees for 5 minutes. Shut off and place bowl in oven. I di not try this yet, but I will next time.