Tag Archives: chocolate

Feeling Saucy: Mole Poblano

8 Oct

Growing up in the agricultural belt of the Pacific Northwest, the sheer scope and popularity of Mexican cuisine was so pervasive that it wasn’t until I moved to New York for school that I realized there were places where people actually believed Taco Bell qualified as food, let alone ‘Mexican’ food.  As a child, I didn’t take advantage of this in the same way I might, now–I couldn’t tolerate the taste of cilantro, picked at things I couldn’t recognize, and generally stuck to beef burritos and enchiladas without fail.  Nevertheless, my mother used to faithfully order chicken mole whenever it was available, while I turned up my nose and couldn’t fathom eating any sauce so unconventional.  Years later, I found myself craving it now and then, with only hazy memories of the dish to go on, and in Korea, I’m sure you can imagine it became even harder to procure.

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Mole sauce (pronounced ‘mol-LEH’), in its native Mexico, refers to a wide range of thick, richly-flavored sauces, all of which are based upon varying blends of chili peppers thrown together with nuts and other spices.  Legend has it that mole was invented more or less by accident, when a group of poor nuns found that an important visitor would be arriving, and needed something to feed him.  Chili peppers, day-old bread, nuts, spices, and a little chocolate were sacrificed to the cause, along with an old turkey, and a quintessential fusion dish was born.  Ingredients indigenous to Mexico, such as chili pepper, tomatoes, squash seeds, and chocolate may be cooked alongside Mediterranean almonds and raisins, African sesame, and even Asian spices such as anise and cinnamon.  Despite being based on dried pepper, the sauce is not hot-spicy, but features a rich, slow depth of taste that can be disconcerting to those used to milder flavors.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Microwave Muffins

30 Apr

Since I’ve apparently decided April was microwave baking month, for me, I’ll round it out with the other two microwave muffin recipes I tried, this month.  These both were hits, though I’d advise having a big glass of milk ready to go, when you eat this one!  This recipe was adapted from one I found here.

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In Search of the Perfect Bowl of Chili

2 Oct

I had a Monday off work, due to the Harvest Festival here. It’s one of the two biggest holidays on the South Korean calendar–the other is the Lunar New Year–and one of the few times I can rely on my friends also getting a day off.  The weather’s starting to turn a bit nippy here, especially at night, and for some reason, holidays among our crew of ex-pats seem to invariably mean Tex-Mex food makes an appearance.  Chili was the logical conclusion.  And before anyone starts, I know that “real Texas chili” doesn’t include beans.  However, I’m not Texan, and the way I grew up eating chili, it never lacked them.  To me, a pot of chili without beans seems more like sloppy joe topping than a filling meal in its own right.

Preconceptions about beans aside, this hasn’t stopped me from experimenting with different spices and blends to find the perfect combination of spicy-sweet-rich for a bowl of chili.  Monday’s, I think, was a success I’ll keep on permanent file.

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Rum Double Chocolate Microwave Brownies

1 Sep

The most irritating about my kitchen, here in a tiny Korean studio apartment? (Well, aside from the fact that only one of my burners works…) No oven.  This means, no matter how many fascinating cookie, scone, bread, or pie recipes I see, I can’t give them a test run.  However, a friend swore she’d tried out a microwave cupcake recipe recently that had produced results, and it sent me on a wild Google spree to find something chocolate, carb, and sugar-loaded for my diet ‘cheat day’ that I could create in a microwave.  Naturally, the moment I found a promising-looking recipe, I changed chunks of it, threw in some extras, eyeballed the rest, and experimented wildly before even trying the original.  This was a logical thing to do.

Fortunately for me and my sudden and deep-seated need to eat all the chocolate, it worked.

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