CASA MARCELA by Marcela Valladolid

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Recipes and Food Stories of My Life in the Californias

Not a Saturday passes by without my looking forward to tuning in to Food Network’s The Kitchen. Hosted by Jeff Mauro, Sunny Anderson, Katie Lee, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Marcela Valladolid, the show is my weekend wake up and the thing that gets me excited about cooking through the next couple of days. That paired with my fondness for Mexican food, and the fact that I was a fan of Valladolid’s previous show, Mexican Made Easy, meant that of course I had to get my hands on a copy of Casa Marcela for my own kitchen.

If you like Mexican flavors and comfort food, you’ll love Valladolid’s new cookbook. Packed with tasty dishes, fabulous photography, and personal stories, the book is a wonderful blend of traditional flavors and Valladolid’s own favorites. And while some might say this isn’t a wholly traditional Mexican cookbook, recipes like Roasted-Cauliflower Steaks with Pickled-Jalapeno Vinaigrette, Roasted Salmon and Pesto-Stuffed Anaheim Chiles can be found alongside Tamales de Pollo en Salsa Verde, Green Hominy and Pork Soup (Pozole), and Conchas.

Valladolid’s recipes are seated in tradition and adapted for ingredients local to Tijuana and San Diego, perfectly reflecting Valladolid’s own influences. There are Tuna Empanadas and Coke-Braised Pork Tacos. There’s even a Mexican Ramen recipe.

The first dishes I dove into were the Creamy Beer Shrimp-Stuffed Poblano Chiles (using poblanos from my garden), a decadent and cheesy dish that we served alongside the White Rice with Basil and Corn; the Peppercorn-Crusted Flank Steak with Mustard Cream (the sauce really made this dish.) that we served with Pickled Poblanos; and the Ground Pork Patties in Tomatillo Salsa served, as per Valladolid’s recommendation, with rice and avocado slices.

The book is divided into eight sections: Small Bites/Botanas; Salads and Soups/Ensaladas y Sopas; Entrees/Platillos Fuertes; Sides/Guarniciones; Salsas; Breakfast/Desayunos; Drinks/Bebidas; and Desserts/Postres. Recipes range from easy family friendly/weeknight meals to more elaborate dishes perfect for entertaining. Saying that, though, none of the dishes I’ve tried so far have been beyond a home cook’s skills, something I definitely appreciate. Another thing I loved about the book was the abundance of produce-heavy recipes, which I especially appreciate during the summer months as there are plenty of dishes that make use of ingredients from my own home garden.

Whether you’re a fan of Valladolid or simply a fan of gorgeous cookbooks with approachable and appealing recipes, Casa Marcela will make a great addition to your cookbook collection.

9/17 Becky LeJeune

From the publisher:

Creamy Beer Shrimp–Stuffed Poblano Chiles from Casa Marcela

Serves 4 to 6

This is a showstopper right here. If you are lucky enough to travel through Mexico, you’ll find that there are countless versions of stuffed peppers: with cheese, with meat, with beans, with dried fruit, and here with seafood. This simple, rich, creamy perfection fills the optimal pepper for stuffing: the poblano. Be careful, though, because depending on the crop, they can range from totally mild to pretty darn spicy. Don’t be afraid to smell them at the market: if it stings your nose a little, you’re probably gonna get some fire from the pepper. If spice is what you are looking for, you can certainly use a jalapeño. They are smaller, so you’ll have to purchase a few more to use up all the stuffing, but they also come out great.

Ingredients

4 to 6 fresh poblano chiles

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

3 garlic cloves, chopped

3 dried chiles de árbol

2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed, and quartered

Salt

1/2 cup dark lager beer

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup shredded Oaxaca cheese, or any other white melting cheese

Directions

Turn a gas burner to high. Char the poblano chiles directly on the burner, turning with tongs, until blackened all over. (Alternatively, roast in the oven under the broiler.) Place the chiles in a plastic bag and let steam for 10 minutes.

Gently rub the chiles with paper towels to remove as much skin as possible. Using a paring knife, make a slit across the top of a chile just below the stem, leaving the stem intact. Starting from the middle of the slit, slice lengthwise down to the tip of the pepper (cut through only one layer). Open the chile like a book and pull out the seeds and inner membranes. You may need to use a paring knife to loosen the top of the seedpod. Repeat with the remaining chiles.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and chiles de árbol and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until lightly pink, about 1 minute. Season with salt to taste. Stir in the beer and cook until lightly evaporated, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cream and bring the mixture to a simmer. Remove the shrimp from the sauce and cook the sauce until thickened, about 6 minutes more. Return the shrimp to the pan and add 1/2 cup of the cheese, stirring until the cheese is completely melted. Turn off the heat.

Preheat the broiler to high.

Fill each chile with about 1/4 cup of the creamy shrimp and transfer to a large glass baking dish. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup cheese among the chiles and broil until the cheese is melted and golden brown, about 6 minutes.

CASA MARCELA by Marcela Valladolid. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 25, 2017). ISBN 978-0544808553. 288p.

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