Mexican Wedding Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup pecans, toasted, coarsely ground
1½ cups powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Using a stand mixer and paddle attachment, add butter in the bowl, mix until light and fluffy. Alternately, use a large bowl and do this by hand using a heavy spatula. Add ½ cup powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until well-blended. Beat in flour, then add pecans. Divide dough in half; form each half into a ball. Wrap separately in plastic. Chill until cold, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk remaining 1½ cups powdered sugar and cinnamon in a bowl to blend. Set cinnamon sugar aside.
Working with half of chilled dough, roll 2 teaspoonfuls of dough between palms into balls. Arrange balls on heavy large baking sheet, spacing ½-inch apart. Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 18 minutes. Cool cookies 5 minutes on baking sheet. Gently toss warm cookies in cinnamon sugar to coat completely. Transfer coated cookies to rack and cool completely. Repeat procedure with remaining half of dough. Top with extra sugar. Store in airtight container for up to 4 days. Makes about 30 cookies.
Pork Chili Verde
1½ pounds tomatillos, husks removed
1 to 2 large jalapeños, seeds removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, cut into large cubes
8 large cloves garlic, peeled
½ cup cilantro leaves
Juice from 1 lime
Vegetable oil, for browning
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cumin
2 pork tenderloins, cut into cubes
¼ cup chicken stock or water
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
For the tomatillo sauce, place an oven rack a few inches from the broiler. Place tomatillos, jalapeños, onion, and garlic on a roasting pan and broil for 5 to 6 minutes until starting to char. Flip all the ingredients to the other side, and broil for another 5 to 6 minutes, until tomatillos are soft and blackened. Allow the vegetables to cool for about 10 minutes. Transfer the roasted vegetables and their juices to a blender, food processor, or use an immersion blender. Blend until the ingredients are puréed. Add the cilantro, lime juice, a generous pinch of salt, and pulse a few more times.
For the pork, heat a few tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat until very hot. Combine the flour, salt, and cumin in a large mixing bowl. Add the pork and gently toss to coat. Working in batches, add the pork to the hot oil and cook until browned, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove with a slotted spoon to a side dish, and continue cooking the remaining pork.
Pour the stock or water into the hot skillet to de-glaze the pan and scrape up any leftover browned bits. Return the browned pork cubes to the skillet along with tomatillo sauce. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes to allow flavors to marry. Serve with warmed tortillas, rice, beans, cilantro, and lime wedges. Serves 4 to 6.
Baked Spanish Rice
14-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups long-grain white rice
4 cloves garlic
2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup fresh cilantro
Set an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor or blender, purée tomatoes and onions until smooth. Measure 2 cups of purée, pouring off and discarding any excess. Heat oil in an oven-safe Dutch oven or a 3-quart saucepan until the oil is hot. Add rice and sauté, stirring frequently, until light golden in color, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in tomato mixture, broth, tomato paste, and 1½ teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil and stir.
If using an oven-safe Dutch oven, cover and bake the rice in that. If using something else, transfer the mixture to a large baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Bake until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Stir halfway through baking time. Fluff rice and top with fresh cilantro. Serves 8.
Photo: Jenny Tremblay West