A Taste of Baja: Mexican Recipes!

appetizers WPAdventureWomen just came back from an extraordinary winter whale watching getaway in Magdalena Bay, Mexico's Baja Peninsula. Other adventurous activities included sea kayaking, swimming with whale sharks and sea lions, and relaxing at AdventureWomen’s remote “safari-style” Baja, Mexico beach camp for close encounters with California gray whales, the “Gentle Giants of the Pacific!”

On our last night we were treated to a private cooking class with the ladies from a boutique Mexican cooking school, Buen Provecho La Paz. Here are some of their recipes and highlights from the class so you can have your very own taste of Baja experience right in your own home!

Be sure to view our photo gallery from the adventure at the end of the recipes.

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Salad Recipe

Breaching whale

Breaching whale

Ingredients
6 Medium sweet potatoes, cut into 34 inch cubes
4.5 cups Cooked black beans OR 3 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1.5 Medium red onion, finely chopped
1.5 cups Fresh cilantro, chopped
1.5 cups Nuts of choice (pecans, almonds, walnuts), chopped
Optional: 1.5 cups Cooked ham or chicken

 

Dressing
1/2 Cup olive oil
1.5 t Cumin
3/4 t Red pepper flakes OR some finely chopped jalapeno or serrano

Preparation

  1. Prepare dressing by whisking together all ingredients in a large bowl. The sweet potatoes will be added to this bowl when they are cooked.
  2. Bring a salted pot of water to a boil.
  3. Drop the sweet potato into the water and cook until they are just tender, but not falling apart.
  4. Drain and immediately toss with the dressing while they are warm. (Alternatively, the sweet potatoes can be tossed with a little olive oil and roasted in the oven.)
  5. Combine all ingredients together and mix gently.

Choose your main course:

Chicken with Tamarind, Fruit & Chipotle Recipe

Ingredients

Sea kayaks beckon...

Sea kayaks beckon...

18 Chicken pieces of your choice with skin & bones
2 t Salt
3/4 t Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 Cup Olive Oil
9 Cups Water
1 lb. (scant 2 cups) Dried fruit of choice (apricots, fig halves, cranberries, raisins, pitted prunes, dates)
2 Chipotle, finely chopped
2 T sauce from chipotles in adobo

Tamarind Concentrate

24 oz. Dried tamarind pods with their shell
6 Cups Boiling water
2 1/4 Cup sugar
3 T Fresh lime juice

Preparing the Chicken

  1. Thoroughly rinse chicken pieces with cold water and pat dry.
  2. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. In a very large skillet (or two), heat the oil over low heat.
  4. Add the chicken pieces in one layer and slowly brown for 45 minutes to an hour, turning them over occasionally so they will brown evenly on all sides.
  5. Pour water over the chicken and raise the heat to medium-high. Bring to a simmer.
  6. Add dried fruit, apricot preserves or marmalade, tamarind concentrate (recipe follows), finely chopped chipotle and sauce, and salt.
  7. Stir and keep at a medium simmer for 35 minutes, until the sauce has thickened to a thick syrup consistency and can coat the back of a wooden spoon.
  8. Reduce heat. Taste. Adjust salt and heat as needed.
Friendly sea lions

Friendly sea lions

Homemade Tamarind Concentrate

  1. Remove outer pod from tamarinds, discard, and place the pulp in a bowl. Cover them with 3cups boiling water and let sit from 2-24 hours.
  2. With your hands, clean the tamarinds of the large seeds and strains/threads. Strain in a colander, pressing with your hands to get as much pulp as possible.
  3. Place the resulting tamarind juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  4. Add sugar and let simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes. The juice should have thickened considerably to a thick syrup consistency.
  5. Squeeze in the fresh lime juice and let it simmer for a couple more minutes and let it cool.
  6. Refrigerate and store in a tight lid container. The concentrate will keep for months.

- OR -

Guajillo Seafood Stew Recipe

Ingredients

1/4 Cup Olive Oil
6 (1 1/2 oz total) Dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into large pieces
2 lbs. Fresh tomatoes
2 Large white onions, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces (divide into 1/3 and 2/3 piles)
4 Garlic cloves, peeled
12 Cups Chicken or fish broth
6 - 8 Medium (2 lbs total) red-skin boiling or Yukon Gold potatoes cut into 8 pieces
4 Large sprigs of epazote
Salt
1 - 2 lbs mussels, scrubbed and debearded OR 2 lbs clams
2 lbs fish, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 Cup roughly chopped cilantro
2 Limes, cut into 6 wedges

Whales tales

Whales tales

Preparation

  1. Heat the oil in a 5 - 6 quart soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the chile and stir-fry until they have changed color slightly and are very toasty - fragrant - 30 seconds to a minute. (Do not over toast the chiles or the soup will be bitter.)
  3. Scoop up the chile pieces with a slotted spoon, pressing them against the side of the pot to leave behind as much oil as possible. Transfer to a blender jar.
  4. Add 2/3 of the onions and all the garlic into the hot pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden - about 7 minutes.
  5. Use a slotted spoon  to leave the oil behind and add onions and garlic to the blender with the guajillos.
  6. Char the tomatoes on the grill and transfer them, without peeling, into the blender with the guajillos, onions and garlic.
  7. Puree everything until it is completely smooth. Strain into the hot pan and return to medium high. Cook, stirring frequently, until it reduces and is thick - about 6 minutes.
  8. Add the broth, potatoes and epazote. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender - about 15 minutes.
  9. Taste and season with salt. (Usually a generous Tablespoon)
  10. Meanwhile, scoop the remaining onion into a strainer and rinse under cold water; set aside for garnish.
  11. Just before serving, raise the heat to medium high and add the mussels (or clams) and fish. Boil briskly until the bivalves have opened - usually about 4 minutes.
  12. Ladle into large bowls and sprinkle generously with cilantro and the remaining onion.
  13. Serve your bowls with the limes passed separately for each person to squeeze in.

Spiced Hibiscus Cooler - Drink Recipe

Petting a whale

Petting a whale

Ingredients

6 Cups water
2 Cups Dried Jamaica (Hibiscus petals)
1 stick Cinnamon
2 - 3 Whole cloves
A few scrapings of nutmeg
1 pinch Ground allspice
1/3 Cup Chopped piloncillo
1/2 - 1 Cup white sugar
Additional water

Preparation

  1. Place 6 cups of water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Stir in the hibiscus petals, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice. Reduce heat to medium-low and gently stir until the water has turned a deep red - 30 to 45 minutes.
  3. Stir the chopped piloncillo into the hibiscus water until dissolved, then set aside to coll 15 minutes.
  4. After cooling, strain the warm liquid into a 1 gallon pitcher through a wire mesh strainer. Squeeze as much liquid from the petals as you can then discard the petals.
  5. Stir in the sugar until dissolved.
  6. Add enough cold water to fill the pitcher.
  7. Serve immediately, or let stand overnight for best taste.

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