Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Enchiladas

The first step, of course, was to poach the turkey. a) to get the turkey cooked, moist and tender, and b) to get the stock that was used in the molé. Of course, all done from scratch. The turkey was poached Thursday night, molé made Friday night and enchiladas put together Saturday night.

This is the pulled turkey with some of the molé mixed in.

The method was to line a baking dish with molé. Take a premade totilla from yesterday and deep fry gently in oil for a few seconds. Immediately soak it in another pot with molé in it. Put it into the baking dish, scoop in a table spoon of the turkey mix and some grated Mexican cheese (like mozzarella), and roll up. Line many such up until the dish is full.

Sprinkle with more cheese and bake for about 40 minutes at 350F.

We made 2 such dishes full.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Molé

Molés have to be one of the more complicated Mexican things, but there are hundreds of versions and are quite a staple of Mexican cooking. They are in almost everything. In the most simple form, they are a chile paste, but as you will see, they are not just that.

First thing was a trip to the Mexican market of which there actually is a good one here in little ol' Lafayette. Determining which chiles to by and how hot they all were was an interesting process.

Robin decided she would try them all. As the first 4 types were not really hot to her 4 remaining taste buds, she tried the last type a but gung-ho. So now she only has 3 taste buds! A few hours later it was fine. All the chiles, however, had to be seeded, a task I left the other 3 folks to.

Several pots and many hours of work are needed.

Not to mention Mexican chocolate,

and a little more chocolate for flavour.

After cooking it looked like this. This is not the final version as it had to be blended and sieved to a smooth consistency. You'll see that in the next entry.

The recipe


For the Chiles
5 chilhuacle negro chiles, or substitute ancho chiles**, seeded, stemmed
5 guajillo chiles, or substitute dried New Mex. chiles, seeded, stemmed
4 pasilla chiles, seeded, stemmed
4 mulatto chiles, or use ancho, seeded, stemmed

For the Spices
12 black peppercorns
6 cloves
1 piece (2 in) Cinnamon Stick or 2 tsp ground cinnamon Ground Cinnamon
2 tbsp dried Mexican oregano Oregano

For the Nuts
½ to 1 cup lard or vegetable oil
½ cup sesame seeds
½ cup dry-roasted unsalted peanuts
½ cup slivered blanched almonds
½ cup walnuts or pecans

For the Dried Fruit
½ cup golden raisins
1 cup pitted dried prunes, sliced
1 cup pitted dried apricots, sliced
1 to 1 ½ cups dry sherry, heated

For the Plantain
1 large, very ripe plantain, peeled and cut into ½ inch slices
2 tbsp butter or lard

For the Vegetables
½ head garlic (about 8 cloves), peeled and cut into ½-inch slices
1 large onion, unpeeled
1 lb firm ripe, red tomatoes (2 large or 3 to 4 medium)
¼ lb fresh tomatillos

For Pureeing
4 to 5 cups Caldo de Pollo

To Complete the Dish
1 tablet (3 ounces) Mexican chocolate, chopped

Rinse chiles under cold running water, removing seeds, tops and veins. Cover with boiling water and let soak until softened, no more than ten minutes, while you prepare the spices. Drain and set aside.

Heat a small, heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add peppercorns and cloves; toast, shaking the pan and stirring constantly, until their aroma is released, about one minute. Set aside in small bowl. Lightly toast the cinnamon in same pan for about a minute; add to the pepper and cloves. (If using ground cinnamon, do not toast; just add to other spices when you've finished toasting them.) Toast oregano in same pan until fragrant and add to spices. Set aside while you prepare nuts.

In a heavy, medium-sized skillet, heat 2 to 4 tbsp lard or oil over medium heat until rippling. Add sesame seeds and cook, stirring, just until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes; do not let them darken. Remove to a medium-sized heatproof bowl. In the same pan, cook peanuts in same manner, stirring, until lightly browned, adding a little more lard. Add to bowl with sesame seeds. Cook slivered almonds, then pecans or walnuts in same way, using a little more lard each time and adding toasted nuts to sesame seeds and peanuts. Set aside.

Combine raisins, prunes and apricots in a bowl and pour hot sherry over them. Set aside to soften.

Heat butter or lard in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat until hot and bubbling, then add plantain slices and cook, stirring, until golden on both sides. Set aside.

Heat griddle or cast-iron skillet over high heat until a drop of water sizzles on contact. Place unpeeled garlic and onion on griddle and roast, turning several times, until onion is blackened on all sides and garlic is dark brown and somewhat softened. Let cool slightly. Peel onion and garlic; coarsely chop the flesh of the onion. Set aside. On same griddle, roast tomatoes, turning several times, until blackened on all sides. Place in deep bowl to catch juices. Let cool slightly and peel. Drain canned tomatillos and set aside.

Now you are ready to puree ingredients in sequence, working in batches according to the capacity of your blender and adding chicken stock as necessary to facilitate blending.

Place as many of drained chiles and toasted spices in the blender as it can accommodate, with about 1 cup of chicken stock. Process until smoothly pureed, adding more stock if necessary. Repeat with remaining chiles and spices.

With a medium spoon, force puree through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl; discard whatever won't go through. Scrape puree into a large, heavy saucepan; rinse out the blender to wash away any hard or fibrous bits.

Puree sesame seeds and nuts in several batches with just as much chicken stock as necessary to help free the blades. Add to chile puree. Puree dried fruit and sherry along with sautéed plantain in same manner, adding a little stock if necessary. Add to saucepan with chiles and nuts. Puree onion, garlic, tomatoes and tomatillos. Add to other purees in saucepan, along with chocolate.

Bring sauce to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring often, for 30 minutes.

Serve with chicken (either cooked separately or browned in a little hot lard and added to sauce to finish braising) and sautéed sliced plantains. Mole is also good with turkey or beef. Can be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for about 10 days or indefinitely in the freezer.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The tortillas

Starts out as an innocent packet of popping corn or white corn.
The corn gets an overnight bath with some lime (the calcium version, not the fruit version).

It swells up quite a bit and becomes soft.
A quick rinse.
Then into the food processor.
A little salt and water and blitz it up.
The mush is rolled into balls and put into the press.
Close the lid

and apply pressure.
Three seconds later... ta da!
A raw tortilla.
Now it is Jo's turn.
They are cooked in a dry skillet for a minute each side.
A couple of hours later, you have piles of the things.

One for us to try with cheese and lime. Yummy!

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Mexican Weekend

Llew had never really cooked Mexican food before due to lack of access to ingredients in Brisbane. Therefore, he decided to put on a Mexican feast for some of our friends. Robin knows a lot about Mexican cooking so was the tutor. It took 3 days to prepare and cook all the food so we have had a lot of new experiences and therefore have a lot of photos. The next few entries will go up in installments so it is easier on you readers. They will go something like this:
The Tortillas
The Molé
The Enchiladas
The Tamales
Preparing the backyard
Other food and the finale

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Beautiful Mind Trip

So Robin's group, consisting of Robin, Llew, Shawn and Shanna overtook our apartment and put all of their posters up around the wall. This is their major research and they meet a few times a week to discuss it. This in itself is not a problem.

Then, however, I sat down to a movie day while Llew and Robin were in the yard. The first movie I watched was A Beautiful Mind. I was watching away and then these scenes started appearing. Of course I had seen the movie before and knew what was coming, but just sitting there watching and then I looked up. The similarities were striking. Just a little un-nerving. I don't know what it says about Robin and Llew's research!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Shawn invited us to play some tennis at the Purdue tennis courts.

See the ball in the net Shawn?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

End of the Day in the Yard

Llew and Robin spent all day in her back yard laying down paper and woodchips. It took 4 trips to the hardware store (in the mini) to get woodchips, plus one trip from Shawn. They nearly covered all the grass, probably 2 more trips for another day. At the end of the day, they felt like eating comfort food and drinking white wine. They got buffalo wings from "The Pub" and I got McDonalds. Cheap & greasy. Cheers!

In the middle of the yard was a brick pit, so they filled it with stones. After all the hard work to get it right, something had to be burned. No Lugh (dog), not you.

FIRE!!!! We had to have s'mores to continue the theme.

No s'mores for Lugh, he just chewed on the wood.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Funnel cakes and killer bunnies

Shawn looked through his cupboard and found some funnel cake mix. Not knowing exactly how to do these, he called on the expert in all things culinary (with not much experience of wonders packaged in cardboard!). Together, they managed several trial runs and then succeeded in cooking lots and lots and lots of these web like cakes. Then they tried dipping things in the batter and frying them, which was even better.

The tricky part of cutting open the box and mixing with water.

The messy part of spooning into a bag for piping.

The sloppy part of piping... er drizzling, into the fry oil.

The sizzly bit of the fry.

The yummy part of eating the result. So they don't look like the picture on the box or as professionally made, but they tasted great with sugar or other sweet delight.

Afterwards, we had to entertain ourselves in a different way. We therefore played various games including Killer Bunnies. Not as gruesome as it sounds, just cards!

Lucky for us it was not killer geese with all these crazy onlookers.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sorry about no posting lately

Sorry that we haven't posted for a week. We have been SOOOOO busy. I have been going in to uni at 7:40am and getting home after 6pm, having dinner then doing more work. That much work really only leaves time for a quick dinner and sleeping. Not as much sleeping as I would like, so I am really tired. Llew has been busy, virtually in constant discussions with other people about their work.

I am still working for Inspire. We are in overdrive for the acadamies now. We have to test everything out, which would be fun, except for the hard part about organising how to do it all. We get to make juice box windmills, straw on fishing line sail boats, soccer balls, dice, folders, water filters, dirty water, mystery bags of "technology" examples and lots of posters and print outs. We are following the Boston Museum of Science Engineering is Elementary modules. In particular, the Mechanical Engineering one where a boy in Denmark "catches the wind", and Environmental Engineering where a girl in India "cleans" some of the Ganges River water. Plus we do some Maths activities on top of that. As well as all of us testing these which takes many hours each day, I have been making power point presentations and templates, posters, net dice shapes and various bits and pieces and having other meeting for hours too. As they say, we eat breathe and sleep acadamy!

That is too true. I could not get to sleep 2 nights ago due to thinking about things. Along with that, I still have a heap of data from last year's acadamies that I have been analysing. Have to work out what the rest of it means, but some of it is ready to be turned into a paper. Just... have... to... get... time... to... write... it...!

I don't know whether the weekend will be catch up on sleep time, or catch up on work time. My list for tomorrow is extremely long, so I am guessing it will be the second option!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

And then an Aluminium plant!

Here in the middle of Lafayette is an Alcoa aluminium mill.

Shawn was very nice and arranged a tour for himself and myself. We were not allowed to take photos, but here are some off the internet that was pretty much what we saw. They guy who gave us the tour works in R&D and had heard of CSIRO and their work in aluminium near Melbourne.

They cast ingot and make billets, but they mostly turn them into extruded parts, or extruded then drawn tubing. The parts they can make are over 100 feet.

Here are the cast ingots.

They trim them down and cut them into billets.

Then they heat the billets typically to around 800 degrees for the extrusion process.

The process is basically pushing the metal through a hole of the right shape. The billets can start out at about 3 feet by 18 inches and end up at 100 feet with a small shaped cross section about 4-6 inches across.

The thinner the walls, the longer the sections, but they cut them to fit in the heat treatment furnace.

They can make quite complicated cross sections, but Alcoa tend to do support beams for the aerospace industry so are more basic than these.

More like these.

For tubing they can do a cold drawing process to get thin walls. This is a diagram of what happens.

This is the final tube.

It was fabulous seeing the extrusion process. They have the largest press outside Russia and it is so cool to see it loaded with billet, the die put in place and then the product squeezed out with such apparent ease. Of course the press is about the size of a diesel train engine plus pumps and things. It is awesome. The drawing process was cool because it was so fast. A 10 foot pipe became a 20 foot pipe in about 10 seconds!