Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Eggplant Soufflé

I had this great story I was going to tell you about how when I was in college at UCLA I worked at Hunter's Books and took advantage of this by buying up tons of art and cookbooks. And how one of them was Anna Thomas' The Vegetarian Epicure, from which I used to make a dinner party or brunch eggplant soufflé that was totally foolproof and fabulous.

This actually is true--except, apparently, the part about my buying The Vegetarian Epicure there. Because this afternoon I noticed that there's still a sticker, faded red but readable, showing that I bought it at Crown Books on sale for $2.49 (reduced from $6.95). I got it as a remainder.

So much for my memory. However, I clearly did embrace the book's eggplant soufflé. I loved this recipe. It was totally satisfying and the directions were both easy to follow and totally reliable. In the late 70s and early 80s, it was oh-so-sophisticated a dish for a new college grad to make.

The Vegetarian Epicure dates back to the early '70s. I fondly embrace it as part of a moment in time along with The Whole Earth Catalog and Our Bodies, Ourselves. Yet, it stands out as one of the few vegetarian cookbooks of its day that actually had great recipes. Today everyone's talking about--with justification--Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty and Plenty More. But I think The Vegetarian Epicure deserves a revival.

I thought about all this a couple of weeks ago when a friend of mine, a wonderful cook and cookbook writer, Kathy Strahs, posted a piece on Facebook about her challenges in making a soufflé and I responded by bringing up this recipe and book. Then I thought, "Wait a sec. It's been decades since I've made this. I wonder if it holds up all these years later."

So, I pulled out the much worn book, which opened directly to the recipe, and gave it a try. And, yes, my friends, it's still as forgiving and fabulous as ever. The flavor is smooth, the texture rich and creamy. It's not loud and bold. It's actually a kind of comfort food. So, I feel the need to share this with you, in case you, too, have been intimidated by the idea of making a soufflé--or think they're passé.

Now, I really don't change a thing in this recipe (okay, I do add an extra clove of garlic and cook it up in a larger saucepan than called for, but that's it), but one thing I did come up with years ago was a spicy tomato relish to accompany it. The relish is simple: fresh chopped tomatoes, julienned fresh basil, a diced jalapeño, diced red onion, minced garlic, sea salt, and a dash of balsamic vinegar. You may not think this soufflé/relish combo works, but I love it still. It brings the punch I like to an otherwise mild, comforting dish. These days, I also appreciate that the soufflé is low carb and low fat.

Eggplant Soufflé
From The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas
(printable recipe)

Serves 4

1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb.)
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. butter
1 small clove garlic, put through a press
2 Tbs. flour
1 cup milk
2 to 3 oz. fresh-gated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper
3 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

Bake the eggplant in a pie dish in a 400-degree oven for about 45 minutes or until the pulp is soft. Cool it under running water so that you can handle it, then split it in half and let the excess water drain out. Scrape out all the pulp and mash it well. Season it with a teaspoon of salt.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan [note: use something larger since all the ingredients will go into it.].  Stir in the flour and let the roux cook for a few minutes.

Heat the milk slightly and beat it into the roux with a whisk. When the sauce thickens, remove it from the heat and stir in the grated cheese and the eggplant pulp. Season with black pepper. Finally, add the egg yolks, lightly beaten.

Add a pinch of cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat them with a whisk until they are quite stiff but not yet dry. Stir about a third of the egg whites into the eggplant mixture thoroughly. Gently fold in the remaining whites.

Pile the mixture into a buttered 6-cup soufflé dish and place it gently into a preheated, 350-degree oven. Bake the soufflé about 45 to 50 minutes and serve at once.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Jennywenny Cakes Opens in Carmel Mountain Ranch

Owner/baker Jenny Williams (on the left), assistant Joyce, and their Mini Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey's Frosting

In the five years that Jenny Williams has been baking professionally she's been a bit of a vagabond, operating out of rental kitchens. But in January, Jennywenny Cakes found a permanent home off Carmel Mountain Road--at 1,200 square feet, large enough to spread out and welcome clients for consulting on custom special occasion cakes and desserts, as well, of course, as bake and decorate them.

Photo courtesy of JennyWenny Cakes
"I've been looking for my own space for a long time," says Williams. "When you decorate you need your own quiet space. And this also gives us a lot more flexibility to test flavors and recipes."

Once you could find Williams at the farmers markets or at restaurants, but she's pulled back on wholesale to focus on custom cakes and desserts for weddings, birthdays baby showers, and corporate parties. Even the desserts are relatively new, but reflect a philosophy her grandmother, a nutritionist, had--which is written as a large greeting on a big blackboard surrounded by a turquoise frame: "A little of what you fancy does you good."

Hence bite-size tastes of delightful sweets like sticky toffee pudding; hazelnut trifles with frangelico, chocolate mousse, and praline; banofee pie, and profiteroles with lemon cream and white chocolate drizzle.

Williams is also contemplating holding periodic pop-ups at her new space--perhaps for special holiday baking treats, like hot cross buns or her Christmas pudding.

You can find Jennywenny Cakes at 12265 World Trade Center, but by appointment only. So contact Williams at jennywennycakes@gmail.com.

Photo courtesy of JennyWenny Cakes

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ryan Studebaker's Roasted Vegetable and Goat Cheese Raviolini

The first time I encountered Chef Ryan Studebaker was several years ago at a Collaboration Kitchen event. I can't remember who the main attraction was that evening, but there was a bit of time at the end and ringleader--much more accurate than ringmaster--Tommy Gomes spotted Studebaker in the audience and dragged him up to the cooking dais to have him do an impromptu cooking lesson in making, I believe, salmon fillets. Studebaker, at the time the chef at Gingham in La Mesa, was a great sport. Whatever fear he may have had in performing without notice in front of a crowd of 75 or so people was undetectable. He made a terrific dish and did himself proud. I wasn't the only one who was impressed with this young guy.

I also fell in love with his food. He invited me to dine at the posh Gaslamp restaurant Encore Champagne Bar and Dining Room, his next gig, and prepared some stunning dishes that clued me into his range. There was the New York Strip Carpaccio. The Potato Gnocchi with Lardon. Braised Pork Cheeks. And a lovely Scottish Salmon. Oh, and dessert? Yes, he does dessert. Like an Apple and Black Fig Tart.

But Encore didn't make it. Now, this Michigan native who learned to cook at his dad's restaurant and got his first job in San Diego at Mr. A's, is running the kitchen at MIHO. Originally a top food truck in San Diego, Studebaker explained that the business is branching out to events and catering. Weddings now make up 70 to 80 percent of their business, but they are also engaged in large events, like the upcoming Art Alive at the San Diego Museum of Art in April. So, MIHO Gastrotruck is transitioning to A MIHO Experience that includes The Vetted Table, the business' catering arm.

Studebaker is relishing this new gig. "There's so much more I get to do than in a restaurant," he says. "For instance, I get clients who want something they've seen somewhere else, like a slider. But I couldn't find any great slider buns, so I started experimenting with making my own. I tried four times and failed before finally succeeding. Now I'm the bread master! I love those opportunities we have when we're a little slow to do research and test recipes."

That includes making his own pastries, which is a pressure situation given that he's married to one of San Diego's premier pastry chefs, Rachel King of NINE-TEN. Friend him on Facebook or follow him on Instagram to watch his progress.

I finally got into the kitchen with him last week and he showed me his tricks for making a sublime roasted vegetable and goat cheese raviolini--a dish that will actually be a passed app at Art Alive.

Before we dive into the recipe, here are a few tips Studebaker shared for successfully making this dish:

  • Anytime you roast or saute vegetables, get the color you want first before seasoning. Cooking pulls out the water from vegetables and your seasoning may get pulled out with it--and you won't get the color you're after.
  • Studebaker oven roasts the vegetables for this dish, but for this small batch he sauteed them. Individually. "Saute vegetables one at a time because different vegetables cook at different rates," he says. "You can oven roast a variety of vegetables together as long as they have a similar density."
  • To saute or roast the vegetables use a 75/25 blend of canola oil and olive oil. "Olive oil can be too strong a flavor and it will smoke once you reach a high heat. Canola oil creates a more neutral flavor for you to incorporate other herbs and spices and it has a higher smoke point."

Raviolini with Seasonal Vegetables, Pistachio Pesto, and Parmesan
from Ryan Studebaker
(printable recipe)

Serves 4 to 6

This dish is hugely flexible--in the type of vegetables you use and the pesto. For the pesto, use your favorite recipe and substitute traditional pine nuts with pistachios and you're good to go.

3 cups of seasonal vegetables (In our version, he used yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, and red bell pepper), small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
75/25 blend of canola and extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Whatever herbs and/or spices you want to include
3/4 cup goat cheese

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Toss the vegetables, garlic, and shallots in the oil mixture and spread onto a heavy baking sheet or pan. Roast until caramelized. Alternately, you can saute each of the vegetables, including the shallots and garlic, separately until they begin to brown and then mix together. Let cool and drain. Once the vegetables reach room temperature mix in the goat cheese. Set aside.

Egg Pasta Dough
Yield: About 1 pound

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon milk

Let's address making the pasta, which is the one issue many home cooks will find intimidating, although Studebaker calls it a labor of love. I videoed Studebaker in two crucial steps so that you can see how simple this actually is.


On a clean and dry table or counter, create a well with flour. (Studebaker suggests making the well wide so you have more room to move your hand and not break the wall.) Pour yolks, egg, olive oil, and milk into the center. Using your finger, break the yolks and begin swirling without spilling over the edge of the well.

Continue this motion while occasionally pushing small amounts of flour into the center, making sure you're slowly incorporating the flour to avoid lumpy dough.


Once the dough begins to pull away from the table, begin adding flour more quickly by sprinkling it over the top and kneading.

Continue kneading the dough until it has a nice sheen. The kneading process can take 10 to 15 minutes. The dough is ready when you can pull your finger through it and it snaps back into place. You cannot over-knead this dough.

Wrap in plastic and let rest at least one hour before rolling out. If refrigerated, let the dough come to room temperature before handling.

Now you're going to put it all together. Using a pasta machine or attachment, set the stop at number 1. Pull off a chunk of dough and flatten it so it fits into the opening and run it through. You'll do this four times, increasing the stop each time until you reach number 4.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add plenty of salt.

Make a wash with egg and water. Place about a tablespoon of filling in mounds along one piece of dough. Gently cover with a second piece of rolled out dough. Then gently push the top dough around the filling mounds and push out any air. Lightly brush with the egg wash.

Using a round 2-inch cookie cutter, cut each of the raviolini circles. Using a fork, press the tines gently around the edges to seal.

Boil the raviolini about two minutes and drain. Plate the raviolini, top with pesto and freshly grated parmesan.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Einkorn, Pea, and Mandarin Orange Salad

And the fun with ancient grains continues!

Einkorn is a grain I first heard about from my friend Maria Speck, the author of a wonderful book, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. Her new book, Simply Ancient Grains, will be published next month. Einkorn is such a unique name that I figured it was some sort of exotic grain. But, in fact, it was much more familiar than I'd expected. It's a species of wheat that is truly ancient, in its cultivated state dating back over 10,000 years ago to archeological sites in southern Turkey. In grain form, it is essentially a wheat berry--something I've been cooking with for years.

As one of the earliest cultivated forms of wheat--along with emmer--it can survive in the poorest, dryest of soils. But it faded from popularity. Now it appears to be coming back, thanks to its health properties, which includes a higher percentage of proteins than modern red grains and higher levels of fat, phosphorus, potassium, and beta-carotine.

It also tastes really good. It has a sweet nutty flavor and a marvelously chewy texture, making it terrific for grain salads/sides, stuffing, and cereal. It can also be ground into a flour for baking.

Einkorn is not all that difficult to find. I bought a package (Jovial) at Whole Foods in La Jolla, but you can also find it easily online from a variety of producers and retailers.

Now some people suggest soaking einkorn berries overnight before cooking since the berries are hard and can take a long time to cook. I've never actually bothered with soaking wheat berries and haven't had a problem. But I thought I'd see if it made much difference in the cooking process. What does happen, of course, is that they expand as they soften and absorb the water.

For the Jovial brand of einkorn wheat berries, the instructions say to bring 3 cups of water to a rolling boil and add 1 1/2 cups of einkorn, then simmer on low for 30 to 35 minutes. So, what you have is, like rice, a 2-to-1 ratio of water to grain and much shorter cooking time than with regular wheat berries (my experience is that it takes closer to an hour). There was no mention of pre-soaking. With my soaked berries, the time was cut by perhaps five minutes because all the water had been absorbed. So, make of this what you will.

I tried the einkorn in two preparations. First I made a salad filled with citrus and dried figs, sugar snap peas, toasted walnuts, and garbanzo beans. I had cooked up 1 cup of dry einkorn and used 3/4 of that for the salad. The rest I saved for breakfast the following day. I added a little more water to the cooked einkorn, stirred it up, then heated it in the microwave for a couple of minutes. I transferred it to a bowl, added a bit of butter, maple syrup, and more toasted walnuts, along with a splash of milk. It was divine. Einkorn just absorbs any flavor you pair it with and serves it back to you in a nutty, chewy mouthful.

If you're intrigued by the commercial emergence of yet another cool ancient grain, give einkorn a try. And this salad, easy to make, is perfect for a late winter side dish.

Einkorn, Pea, and Mandarin Orange Salad
(printable recipe)

Serves 6

3/4 cup dry einkorn wheat berries

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot bulb, peeled and minced
1/2 cup fresh shelled sugar snap peas
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
6 dried figs, chopped
1/2 cup garbanzo beans
2 mandarin oranges, zested and peeled

3 tablespoons high-quality extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
zest from above

1. Prepare einkorn according to directions on package.
2. While einkorn is simmering, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in saute pan. Add shallots and saute for about one minute. Add the peas and saute for another minute or two to warm. Stir in half the zest and remove from heat. Add to a medium size bowl.
3. Add the walnuts, figs, garbanzo beans, and mandarin orange sections. Be sure to remove as much of the fiberous string from the sections as possible.

4. Whisk together the three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, the sherry vinegar, salt and pepper, and remaining zest. Taste and adjust seasonings.
5. When the einkorn has cooked, remove it from the heat and let it come to room temperature. Stir it up to separate the grains and let the steam escape.
6. Add the cooled einkorn to the rest of the ingredients in the bowl. Add the dressing and mix well. Serve.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Farmers Market Pasta with Pea Tendrils

I usually go to the farmers market to buy odds and ends of things--whatever strikes my fancy. Last Sunday, I went to the Hillcrest farmers market to see what I could gather to make an interesting dinner. The trick was to find that one item to build the meal around.

I found it at Sage Mountain Farms' stall: sugar snap pea tendrils. On a gloomy day that hinted of rain, there were those sweet pea flowers spoke to me of spring and I had to have them, especially since their season is short. Pea shoots and tendrils can be enjoyed raw, chopped in a salad or snacked on, or sauteed. The young stems are crispy, the leaves a bit tart with a hint of pea flavor.

I picked up two bunches and turned around to continue my shopping and saw my friends Tina and Eric of Close to Home pasta. Voila! I had my meal. Pasta with pea tendrils. Nothing fancy or exotic, but the idea felt perfect.

I picked up a couple of pastas: spinach and garlic penne and firecracker garlic fettucine. I can't resist spice or garlic. After consulting with Tina, we decided that the fettucine would pair best with the pea tendrils.

Oh, and then I saw some shelled sugar snap peas at Valdivia farms. I bought a bag of those. Then some butter from Spring Hill Jersey Cheese.

I was done. At home I had some pine nuts and goat cheese--and, garlic and olive oil. Oh, and a lemon. No need to buy those that day.

I'd love to say that it's all I bought, but I was lacking in will power. I picked up a loaf of whole wheat sourdough bread from Prager Brothers and spicy Bitchen' sauce as well. Farmers markets are filled with temptation!

Last night I pulled the meal together. It was simple, but think of the ingredients I was working with!

I don't have a recipe, but here's what I did:

1. Toasted a handful of pine nuts while a pot of water was heating up
2. Removed the flowers from the pea tendrils to keep as garnish
3. Chopped the pea tendrils into bite-size pieces
4. Zested the lemon and minced a few garlic cloves
5. Sauteed the pea tendrils and peas in a combination of butter, olive oil, and garlic, then added some lemon zest and sea salt

6. Removed the peas and tendrils and made the sauce--a bit more butter and olive oil, a bit more sea salt, juice from half the lemon, and the rest of the zest.
7. Added the pasta to the boiling water and let the sauce reduce. Sliced some goat cheese.

That's it. I added the pasta to the pan filled with the sauce and tossed it to coat before adding the mixture to the peas and pea tendrils. I tossed it all together and then added the pine nuts and goat cheese before topping the dish with the flowers. Dinner was on in perhaps 15 minutes. Local, seasonal, fresh. Delicious!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Returning to Ancient Grains with Sorghum

I'm a SoCal gal. So, when I hear the word sorghum, my head immediately pulls up an image of Gone with the Wind. Isn't it some kind of Southern molasses?

Well, yes and no. One type, sweet sorghum, is a tall cereal grain that has, in fact, served as the source of an inexpensive syrup and as feed in the form of the whole plant for animals. But in the U.S. a second, shorter variety is grown for animal feed. And ethanol. And, get this, fencing, pet food, building material, and floral arrangements. Its great quality is that it's drought tolerant (anyone growing it in California?) and very hardy. In fact, it requires a third less water to grow than corn. And that's why, in thirsty parts of the U.S., sorghum is making a comeback. According to United Sorghum Checkoff, in 2013 8.06 million acres of sorghum were planted in the U.S.--primarily in Kansas, Texas, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Colorado on dryland areas.

Originating from northeastern Africa, where it's been growing for at least 4,000 years, sorghum spread to the rest of Africa, as well as India and China. It's thought to have been introduced to North America in cargo ships that carried African slaves.

While corn is still king in the U.S., farmers are experiencing greater demand for sorghum and not just because of water scarcity. Because it's an ancient grain and a gluten-free grain, increasingly people are showing a culinary interest in it. It's ground into flour for baking but I have been enjoying the whole grains themselves--which look like pale little ballbearings with a black dot in center.

Sorghum is not difficult to find in San Diego. I found Bob's Red Mill packages of it at Whole Foods. Like any whole grain it's endlessly versatile. Boil it like rice and enjoy it as a side dish. Create risotto with it. Make a hot cereal with it. Or, you can even pop it like popcorn.

I kept it simple just to try it out. The water to grain ratio with sorghum is 3 to 1 and it takes close to an hour to cook. The grains plump up, but they still are small and have a chewy consistency.

I first ate the cooked sorghum with a tomato-based chicken stew. Then I turned the leftovers into a sorghum and cherry tomato salad, basically rummaging through my refrigerator to use ingredients like sliced kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, diced red onion, garbanzo beans, parsley from my garden, currants, and toasted pine nuts. I tossed all of it together in a light vinaigrette I made. Day one it was a solid B. The textures were good--some crunch, some chew. The flavors were, too--sweet, herbaceous, briny, salty, garlicky (from the vinaigrette). But day two it all came together. So, make this a day in advance so the flavors can really meld.

I also heard that sorghum can be popped and thought that sounded like a hoot. So, I pulled out a tall pot and gave it a try. I'd read instructions that you can put the grains in a pot and cover it, shaking the pot over high heat until all the kernels are transformed. But these little guys are so tiny I wasn't convinced I'd hear what was happening inside. They just didn't seem robust enough. And, based on that I also didn't think they jump too high. So, I just used an open pot that was very tall.

My first go round wasn't successful. I added too much olive oil in and they drowned. Just turned brown. So, I emptied the pot, used just the slightest amount of oil to a quarter cup of sorghum and tried again with higher heat. By now the pot was quite hot and the action started immediately. And stirring with a wooden spoon seemed more useful than shaking the pot. The grains won't all pop but even the orphans can be enjoyed without worry of cracking your teeth.

What to do with them? Other than snacking, of course. They make a great garnish. The popped kernels are petite and delicate looking. Use them to top a creamy soup or a platter of roasted vegetables. Add them to a salad. Make little sweet balls (a la popcorn balls) to garnish a dessert. They're just fun!

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

El Borrego's Green Pork Pozole

Under the category of "who knew" falls green pork pozole. I've enjoyed red pozole. I've enjoyed it with chicken. But green? And with pork? That was a humbling and happy discovery I made late last fall while visiting the little City Heights eatery, El Borrego. The broth is rich and herbaceous, thickened with the mandatory hominy. The chunks of pork shoulder are tender and meld beautifully with the broth and the various condiments you can add to the soup--from chicharones and cilantro to sliced cabbage and radishes. It's a meal meant to warm your insides in cold weather--but we're in San Diego so don't wait for a chill to set in. Turn on the AC and enjoy!

I asked owner Rodnia Navarro if she'd teach me how to make the dish and she, in turn, introduced me to her mother, Rosario Sotelo, who is El Borrego's chef. Rosario agreed and we decided to wait until after the new year to get together for a cooking session. By January I felt like that woman in the old Mervyn's commercial, feverishly tapping on the window repeating, "open, open, open."

Well, the day finally arrived and as always, there were the unanticipated discoveries that I'm so excited to share. The  first is that pozole is actually quite easy to make. The greater challenge is finding the ingredients. And that leads to the other discoveries.

Green pozole gets its name from all the marvelous green ingredients it incorporates. The most prominent is pulverized pumpkin seeds. Look for them in Hispanic markets, but don't worry if you can't find them. You can buy the seeds whole and grind them in a good blender. You'll also need epazote, a weed-like herb that is usually associated with cooking black beans. It's pretty easy to find in Hispanic markets. And, you'll want Mexican Pepperleaf, or hoja santa. It's unusual tasting--to me it had a slightly bitter minty flavor. And, you'll want--get this--radish leaves. Yes, finally I've learned of a use for those beautiful leaves we tend to toss when we buy a bunch of radishes. And, Rosario, says, you can clip, wash, drain, and freeze these various leaves.

Clockwise from top left: Hominy, pork shoulder, hoja santa, ground pumpkin seeds

One thing I've heard a few people say about making pozole is that they bought the wrong hominy (which, by the way, is what pozole means). So, above is a photo of what you're looking for--oversized corn kernels, not grits.

The pozole is atypical of the dishes you'll find at El Borrego--because the family is known for their lamb dishes. In fact, it's how they got started. Originally from Acapulco in the Mexican state of Guerrero, Rosario worked as a flight dispatcher for major airlines. Rodnia, with a degree in international studies, worked at Frontera newspaper in Tijuana, where Rosario moved 25 years ago and opened a candy store. A natural cook, she also catered for a maquiladora. Rosario's sister had a convenience store in San Diego and a customer was looking for someone to make barbacoa, a method of slow cooking meat. In central Mexico, that typically means lamb. Rosario took the gig, and discovered that lamb barbacoa was not easy to find in San Diego. In other words, she saw a business opportunity.

Rosario and Rodnia launched a little weekend business in the driveway alongside the convenience store, making use of the sister's licensed kitchen. "Our first weekend we sold two tacos de barbacoa," Rodnia recalls. "Six months later we were selling 600 pounds a week in the driveway."

Customers referred to the irregular eatery as El Borrego, the lamb. "We said, 'huh?' But they told us, 'You are the borrego. You are the lamb,'" Rodnia laughs.

Rosario Sotelo and Rodnia Navarro

For family reasons, the taco stand disbanded, but customers insisted that the duo open their own restaurant. And 10 years ago they did. The first four years went well and they were making plans to expand into other neighborhoods--until the recession hit. So they stayed put and expanded their menu to include what customers off the street were asking for--burritos and quesadillas and other more typical Mexican fare--at least typical to SoCal tastes. It allowed them to survive and now business has been improving as the economy and the neighborhood have improved. But, they're still known for their lamb dishes, including the lamb barbacoa tacos; sopes; and a fabulous quesadilla with squash blossoms, huitlacoche, and lamb. You can also buy lamb barbacoa by weight for parties, with all sorts of condiments included.

The pozole, however, is a family favorite. Throughout Guerrero, including Acapulco, says Rosario, it's traditionally served on Thursdays, or what Rosario notes "Jueves Pozolero." She and her mother naturally started serving it on Thursdays, but have expanded it to include Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays--and rainy days.

El Borrego has held cooking classes in the past and Rodnia is considering launching them again. But in the meantime, she says, "My mom cooks from the heart. We're proud to share our traditions."

And that includes their recipe for green pork pozole.

Green Pork Pozole (Pozole Verde Guerrerense)
from Rosario Sotelo of El Borrego
(printable recipe)
Serves 4 to 6 people


1 pound pork shoulder (can also include bone)
1 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 quarts water
1 pound can of hominy, rinsed and drained

Mixture 1
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 cloves garlic
1 small red onion, peeled and cut into chunks
3 cups chicken broth

Mixture 2
6 ounces pulverized pumpkin seeds
5 tomatillos, skin on and grilled
5 garlic cloves
3 teaspoons oregano
1 small red onion, peeled and cut into chunks
2 jalapeño chiles, seeded
1 Mexican pepperleaf (hoja santa), about the size of a corn tortilla
3 ounces epazote
2 iceberg lettuce leaves
12 radish leaves
2 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon vegetable oil


1. Cut the pork into two-inch cubes. Add to a pot with water and salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Add the ingredients for Mixture 1 to a blender. Blend thoroughly.

3. At the 30-minute cooking point for the pork, strain just the liquid from Mixture 1 into the pork pot and discard the solids. Twenty minutes later add the hominy. Check the meat. It should be almost cooked. Throughout the cooking process, periodically skim the scum from the top of the soup.

4. Add the ingredients to Mixture 2 to a blender. Blend thoroughly. Heat a skillet and add the vegetable oil. Add the blended Mixture 2 to the pan and saute over low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly.

5. About 10 minutes before the meat is tender, gradually add the sauteed paste to the pork pot and cook for 10 more minutes. Taste the mixture and adjust seasonings.

6. Serve the pozole with a variety of condiments, including sliced radishes, chicharones, sliced cabbage, cilantro, chopped onions, slices of avocado, lime slices, dried red pepper flakes, dried oregano, crispy tostadas, and mini roll taquitos.

El Borrego is located at 4280 El Cajon Blvd.

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