Friday, January 21, 2011

Gambling on Mexican Chicken Soup with Ancho Chiles

Cooking is often a gamble. You can play it safe and recycle the same six or seven meals, week in and week out. Or you can take a chance on a new recipe or exotic ingredient. And that's what we did tonight.

But first, a little something to steel our nerves.

The new-to-us ingredient was Ancho Chiles.

Facebook friend Stuart Oats, of Birmingham's really cool historic cemetery, assures us Anchos are a wonderfully versatile chile, great for making chili paste.

But before you can do anything, you have to rehydrate the chiles in boiling water for a couple minutes.

For this Mexican Chicken Soup with Ancho Chiles recipe we did a bunch of chopping and dumping (into a big pot, you silly!). Here's the result:

Isn't that pretty!?! The red from the chiles and tomatoes, the green of the cilantro and avocados (Olivia's favorite!).

Did the gamble pay off? You betcha! (go ahead, say it with the Alaska accent and that funky two-fisted thumb/knuckle pointy move). Here are the reviews:

Jason - Prep and cooking was easy and the soup was good. Not as spicy as I anticipated, but good. 3.5 out of 5.

Tanya - The chiles were a lot smoother than I expected; a very even sort of heat. Not too much and not to little. The color combo will knock your socks off. It just looks really pretty! 4 out of 5.

Miranda - (at play rehearsal tonight, so eating on the road again)

Olivia - "It's red... the color of evil." (Tanya: "Red isn't the color of evil!" Olivia: "Well, then what is the color of evil?" Tanya: "Evil doesn't have a color, sweetie." Olivia (under her breath): "red.") But other than the color, she says she liked it.

Hannah - picked around, then quickly cleared her plate and refused to comment.

Okay, maybe we shouldn't bet on Hannah eating a soup like this. After all, she's still in that different-foods-shouldn't-touch-each-other phase.

Still, it was a winning night in the kitchen, so we upped the ante with an after dinner game of Texas Hold 'Em. Suffice to say, when she's legal we're taking Olivia to Vegas!

Want to learn more about Olivia's favorite fruit, the Avocado? (yes, avocados are a fruit!)

How to cut an avocado

And once you've removed the pit, you can grow it (confession: we grew a mighty HUGE avocado plant by accident in our compost bin. Very cool surprise!)

And look at this guy's little front yard fruit garden...

You'll need to live in a warm environment and plant at least two avocado trees to they can cross-polinate. It may take 4-6 years, but if you do it right and the gamble pays off, the average avocado tree produces 1200 avocados a year!

1 comment:

  1. (From Stuart Oats - via Facebook)

    Tanya: I don't know what happened to the post on the blog, but here it is. Sometimes I play with it and add a teaspoon of bakers cocoa.

    Ancho paste ingredients
    8 ancho peppers
    2 - 4 cloves of garlic
    1 tsp oregano
    1tsp salt

    Open, de-vein and remove seeds from the chiles.
    place anchos in an empty ceramic or metal bowl bring two cups of water to a boil, then pour over the chiles, making sure the chiles are completely covered. Allow to soak for one hour. (Chiles can be boiled for faster softening time, but the aroma from the chiles is very strong when they are boiled. The soaking saves sensitive noses).

    Take softened chiles and place in a blender along with the other ingredients. the pour in enough of the water that the chiles soaked in to equal two cups. Blend to a puree.

    The mixture can be used immediately or refrigerated, or even frozen for later use.

    (Thanks Stuart! Can't to try it)