Sunday, September 10, 2006

Mole for Partners Club Mexican Dinner Night (9/10/06)

All amounts listed are approximate... some more than others
2 cups pumpkin seeds, toasted and salted
1 cup toasted almonds
10 medium-large tomatoes (mixture of plum and pink heirloom)
3 fresh ancho chilis
1 fresh "Native American" chili
1 fresh Hungarian hot pepper
3 fresh tiny Thai bird chilis
1/2 cup raisins to grind in the sauce, plus 1/4 cup to leave whole
1 Tbsp cocoa nibs, or substitute 2 squares of unsweetened dark chocolate

Stew seasonings:
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
6 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped coarsely
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried ground cumin
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 lime
2 cups water

2 frozen Quorn Naked Cutlets, cut into cubes
1 pint tiny summer squash, cut into diagonal slices--I used a very pleasing-to-the-eye type shaped like tiny zucchini and shaded butter-yellow on one end, where the green stem was attached, and pale leaf-green on the other
1/2 pint green beans, trimmed and snapped into pieces
2 medium waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 carrots, peeled and sliced

Fry the onions in some olive oil over medium-low heat. After a few minutes, add the garlic. Once the onion is soft and the garlic is slightly browned, add some water.

Wash and place the unpeeled tomatoes and chilis on a silicone baking sheet in a baking dish under the broiler until charred.

Peel the charred skin off the chilis, remove their seeds, and place the chili flesh into a food processor.

Add the tomatoes to the pot with the onion mixture and let everything simmer while you prepare the rest of the sauce.

Add the pumpkin seeds, almonds, 1/2 cup of the raisins, and cocoa nibs to the food processor and grind everything to a powder. Add this mixture to the pot, then add the oregano, cumin, soy sauce, salt, and whole raisins, and stir and mash all the ingredients together. It should look pale and creamy.

Add the stew ingredients, allowing for the disparity in cooking times between each type of ingredient: potatoes and carrots first, then squash, then green beans and Quorn.

Simmer until the stew is cooked through. Add the lime juice and pepper, taste and correct the seasoning. I ended up stirring in a few extra spoonfuls of tomato sauce at the end because there was too much nut mixture, making the sauce too bland.

Serve with rice.

Notes on the recipe: next time, I would add many more tomatoes and ancho peppers in relationship to the nut mixture, in order to give the sauce more depth, spice, and tanginess, and more chocolate to strengthen the bitterness. As it was, I think it ended up more bland than I would have liked--it tasted perfect after I had added only about half the nut mixture, but I ended up adding the rest because I had to use it up. The lime was a substitute for the citrus sourness of tomatillos, which I couldn't find, but I think this would be phenomenal with tomatillos, green tomatoes, or maybe even ground cherries instead of the lime juice. A bigger variety of nuts would also make this sauce very interesting. Some of the Diana Kennedy recipes I was studying and adapting used hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, and sesame seeds in addition to almonds and pumpkin seeds. Also, the green beans were a substitute for nopales. Real nopales would probably be better.

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