Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chile Rellenos - Dried Stuffed Ancho Chiles with Plantains and Cream

One of Mexicos most best-known dishes Chile Rellenos (stuffed chiles) is often prepared with fresh poblanos fried in light batter and heated in tomato sauce but there are many regional variances on this popular dish. Jalapeno, manzano, dried pasado, pasilla de Oaxaca, and chili ancho take your pick.

Although I'm a big fan of the battered poblano recipe I wanted to try something different with the poblanos dried cousin the chile ancho. I was soon inspired by a creation of Ricardo Munoz Zurita on the Rick Bayless show "Mexico - One Plate at a Time". How can I go wrong with a the culinary genius of Ricardo Zurita. Ricardo is the chef behind Mexico City's Azul y Oro and author of 4 cookbooks including the 600-page Encyclopedia of Mexican Gastronomy.

This recipe was not listed on Rick Bayless site and the exact measurements were not discussed so we pretty much had to eyeball it and take notes.

Stuffed Chile Ancho with Plantains and Crema


Serves 10

12 Chiles Ancho (Always purchase a few more then you need some might fall apart when you are removing seeds and veins)
4 very ripe Plantains
4-5 Garlic cloves crushed
1 whole chopped onion
3 chopped roma tomatoes
3/4 pound of panela chesse
1 small piloncillo cone
1/2 cup of grated piloncillo
dash of salt
dash of pepper

(Piloncillo is an unrefined sugar from Mexico produced in "cone" shapes of various sizes)


1 pound of Mexican Crema

Dissolve the whole cone of piloncillo in hot water, cover the chiles in the hot water, pushing them down into the water so that they are totally submerged. Soak for 10 min, Ricardo recommended 5 min but we did not achieve the level of softness we were looking for. You also do not want to soak the chiles to long or they will get to soft and fall apart.

Remove the chiles from water and carefully make a slit on one side and remove veins and seeds. Make sure the stem does not fall off and try not to tear the chile.

Bake the plantains for 10 min at 350

Chop tomatoes, queso panela and onions, crush the garlic and ground 1/2 cup of piloncillo. Remove plantains from oven and chop into cubes.

Heat oil and saute onion and garlic. Add tomato and cook for 5 min. Add plantains and cook for another 10 min. Add piloncillo powder, pinch of salt and pinch of pepper and mix well. Remove from heat and add queso panela.

Add 2-3 tablespoons of filling to each chile ancho. Fold crease over and place on a plate with crease down. Garnish with Crema and Parsley.

As I was shooting the final shots I caved in and took a bite.

Stuffed Chile Ancho with Plantains and Crema

The Chile Ancho is mild in spice and has somewhat of a fruity flavor. The flavor profile of the ancho played well with the plantains and we were very pleased with the results. I have been craving Chiles en Nogada but they are not in season yet so this was a nice alternative that is much easier to make. I guess we will have to go for the trifecta and feature the ever so popular battered Chile Rellenos soon.

Chiles en Nogada

Chiles en Nogada

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Restaurante UNO Tijuana - Showcasing Baja California's Talented Young Chefs

********Closed********* This talented Chef is now at Corazon De Tierra in Valle de Guadalupe, Ensenada After several months away from Tijuana what was one of the first places I couldn't wait to get back to? A restaurant in Gastronomic District? No not exactly, the very first place that came to mind was near the Agua Caliente Racetrack and it was none other than Restaurante UNO.

UNO Logo

My wife and I wanted a special, relaxing and intimate dining experience and UNO did not disappoint. Just like our first visit the service was exceptional.UNOs kitchen is run by two young and talented chefs Ricardo Hiroshi Uno and Diego Hernández. On this particular day Diego Hernández was at the helm.

During childhood visits to the markets in Toluca Mexico, Diego Hernández became fascinated by the colors and aromas of the food products. Diegos grandmother was a great cook and she was a key factor in sparking Diegos interest into the culinary world. At the young age of 18 Diego began to work with pioneering chef Benito Molina at Manzanilla Restaurant in Ensenada. Diegos time in Ensenada with Benito opened his eyes to the wonderful regional products of Baja California.

Fresh fish from Ensenada, salads from the garden, pork from ranches in Rosarito, beef from Hermosillo, wine from the Valle De Guadalupe, we could not decide on what to order so we asked Diego to showcase his talents and went for the Menu de Degustation. Degustation turned out to be an 8 course meal that represented all the best the region had to offer fused together with the chefs creative techniques.


A shot of Mexican amber beer with shrimp, clam, and mussels.

Uno Shot - Dark Beer, Shrimp, Clams, Mussels.


Smoked oysters

Baja Oysters


Pork Tocina with black habenero, crema, masa and avocado balls, on a bed of white beans.

Tocina- Pork On a bead of White Beans, Crema,


Chocolate Clam roasted habenero soup with smoked bread laced with lemongrass shavings.

Chocalate Clam Soup with Smoked Lemon Grass Bread


Arugula green bean salad with queso fresco

Arugula Green Bean Salad with queso Fresco


Jurel (Yellowtail) in a chile sauce of chile cascabel, peanuts, and sesame served with fresh vegetables.

 Yellowtail in Chili Casacabel Sesame Sauce


Lechon en Adobada with a puré of serrano and avocado, emulsion of corn and fried beans.

Lechon en Adobada, pure of serrano avocado, corn emulsion, and fried beans.

OCHO was actually a creme brulee I gobbled up so fast I didn't get to snap a picture.

So their you have it, another unique dining experience at Restaurante Uno. Everything that came out of the kitchen was a great pleasure of the senses but I must say, my favorite dish would have to be the Pork Tocina. Succulent pork with little corn masa balls are you kidding me? Everything about this worked like a symphony. The spice of the black habenero, complemented by sweet corn masa balls, cooled with fresh avocado and crema with the subtle white beans providing the canvas for the art.

Come experience the talent of the young chefs in Baja.

Av. de Las Ferias #5202, Col. del Bosque C.P. 22o34 Tijuana, B.C Mexico.
Reservations (664) 681.3203

View Larger Map

UNO Website (Spanish)

UNO Blog
UNO Facebook Page

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Masa Assassin Turns 1 Year !

I can’t believe it been a year since I first sat down and wrote about Erizo Cebicheria in Tijuana. First of I want to thank all my readers and subscribers I really appreciate the many encouraging comments and emails and I have received. I'm sorry for not being active the last few months but I hope to get back in full swing by end of February.

So where has Masa been? Well it’s been a combination of a few things that has kept me from blogging the past few months. In November I had some goals to reach with my main passion "Muay Thai". Muay Thai is a Martial Art from Thailand also known as Thai boxing; it’s similar to Western Kickboxing however elbows and knees are also utilized. The weekend excursions of all out food binges were finally catching up to me and my eating habits were not exactly helping my efforts in training.

In December things just got so busy with the holidays and by the time December rolled around my wife and I committed to a serious diet regiment. Living healthy active lifestyles we pretty much always ate sensible during the week but it was the weekend food blogging that finally took a toll on the waistline.

So here we are at the beginning of February most of our goals have been met and we are ready to indulge. Before we start the new 2010 blog post I would like to take a look back at a few of our favorite photos of 2009 and the story behind them.

1. Tres Leches Cake
(original post here)

Pastel Tres Leches - Tres Leches Cake

This was very fun to make we even had our five year old daughter involved in the process. We finished the cake in the evening and refrigerated it, planning to take photos in natural sunlight the next day. My wife had to work the next day so I was alone to work on the presentation of the cake and take photos.

I had the first slice ready to go but something just didn’t look right. The strawberries looked a little wilted. I put the cake back in the fridge and headed to the market for some fresh strawberries. When I returned from the market I fanned the strawberries, grabbed some mint from the garden, and I was ready to take the shot. I think the phone rang or something startled me but I ended up dropping the plate, and the slice of tres leches cake went crashing onto the kitchen floor.

I ended up re dressing a new piece and took it in the backyard for the final shoot. I was shooting the pictures so fast because tres leches is like ice cream and I was worried it would melt away. I finally got the shots I was looking for, sat back and enjoyed my tres leches cake! I have received so much positive feedback on this recipe it has by far been our most popular post.

2. Camaron Enchilado Spicy Shrimp Taco - Tacos El Mazateno Tijuana (original post here)

Tacos El Mazateno Tijuana - Camarones Enchilado (Spicy Shrimp Tacos)

I was so surprised at the results of this one because Its usually difficult to achieve good results when restaurants are very crowded. On this particular day their must have been 100 people enjoying the mariscos at El Mazateno. We ended up actually sharing a table with some friendly strangers. As my wife was striking up a conversation I busted my big camera out the bag and started shooting away.

I usually try to be somewhat discreet when I’m taking pictures of my food but it was pretty tough to do it in this case. I ended up rushing the shots just hoping I snapped at least one good one. Really no secrets of photography behind this one, sometimes random shots are the best. To this day this remains one of my favorite tacos and every time I look at this pic I want to make a run to the border.

3. Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs (Original Post)

Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog

After enjoying these Hot Dogs down south for years we decided to replicate them at home. Unlike most of the cooking we cover this was our first crack at this pork frenzy. I have my brother to thank on this one he actually did a great job wrapping the bacon around the Hot Dog and cooking them.

I was still very new to DSLR cameras at this time so I experimented much with this one. Like most of my home pictures this was taken in my backyard and I used a simple white background. Some shots from this session have made their way around the internet including a great piece on 100 ways to use a strip of bacon.

As far as food styling goes I don’t spray my food with anything, pretty much everything I shoot is consumed shortly after the photo is taken, and I mean shortly ha-ha. I will always remember this photo as my first photo submitted and accepted by the top food porn sites foodgawker and TasteSpotting.

4. Chocolate Soufflé - Manzanilla Restaurant
(Original Post)

Cascada de chocolate (chocolate souffle) - Manzanilla Ensenada BC Mex

Ah my favorite chocolate soufflé. Anyone who knows me knows my weakness is chocolate. I never leave manzanilla restaurant without my chocolate shuffle fix. Although manzanilla is opened for lunch I would almost always find myself enjoying a late dinner. I try to avoid photos with flash as much as I can so the shots I was getting at night were not doing the soufflé justice.

I decided to make a special trip right at the time of opening and ordered all of my favorite dishes. It turned out to be a good move I finally got the lighting I needed and my chocolate fix. I'm not sure why I like this one so much perhaps its my love for chocolate. I actually got the idea of fanning my strawberries for my tres leches cake picture from this one. The souffle is actually served on a piece of black marble which is the perfect backdrop for the white powdered sugar, and red strawberries.

5. Fresh Baja Scallops with strawberry and Chile Morita - La Cocedora de Langosta Ensenada (original post)

Baja Scallops with Strawberry and Chile Morita puree - La Cocedora De Langosta Ensenada

The lighting at La Cocedora de Langosta has always been good to me. I never thought something as simple as a scallop could look so good. One thing I have learned is that each dish has its own personality. Ive noticed its always best to snap food photos seconds after they have been prepared.

I'm still learning about food photography and hope to improve this year.Thanks again for your support!