QUESO QUESO QUESO

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Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • ½ a medium onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 2 jalapeños, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 plum tomatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)*
  • 1 small can green chiles
  • 3 cups shredded Cheddar
  • 2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack
  • ½ cup of cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and jalapeños and saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir briefly.
  3. Add the flour and stir until bubbly and beginning to color. Stir in the milk a little at a time, making sure to break up any lumps as you go. Simmer, stirring, until the mixture is slightly thickened.
  4. Add the tomatoes and green chiles and stir well. Lower the heat to very low.
  5. Add the cheese by the ¼- to ½-cup, stirring well to incorporate each addition and ensuring that the cheese is melted before you add more. Continue until all cheese has been added.
  6. Stir in the cilantro (if using) and the sour cream. Taste and add salt if necessary.
  7. Keep warm in a crock pot, or serve immediately with tortilla chips and/or flour tortillas.
Notes
* I used canned fire-roasted tomatoes, since tomatoes aren’t in season. I’d suggest you do the same until summer rolls around!
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Chocolate-Habanero Cake with Chocolate-Avocado Buttercream

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Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes, plus cooling time
Cook Time: 30 to 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, plus cooling time

INGREDIENTS

For the Cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon finely ground coffee

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground allspice

½ teaspoon ancho chile powder

½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder

Pinch habanero powder

1¼ cups whole milk

½ cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Buttercream:

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and softened

1 ripe avocado—halved, pitted and mashed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch kosher salt

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms and sides with parchment paper and grease the parchment. Set aside.

2. Make the cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, coffee, cinnamon, allspice, ancho powder, chipotle powder and habanero powder.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the milk, oil, eggs and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Fold in the flour mixture, mixing until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick or tester inserted into the center of a layer comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Set on a wire rack until slightly cooled, about 10 minutes, then turn them onto the wire rack. Remove the parchment and let the cake layers cool completely.

4. While the cake is baking, make the buttercream: Fill a medium saucepan with 2 inches of water and set it over medium-low heat. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and set it on top of the double boiler. Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, and set aside to let cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in the avocado, vanilla and salt. Reduce the mixer’s speed to low and slowly add the confectioners’ sugar, beating until fully combined. Add the cooled chocolate, mixing until fully incorporated.

6. Put one cake layer on a serving plate and frost the top. Stack the second layer and frost the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.