Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Happy August!  It's been a while, and there's news!

Paloma will be closed for vacation beginning August 21, 2016.  We will reopen on Wednesday, September 7.

Many of you have asked for it, so Adán has been working on a new menu featuring small plates!  I've been the guinea pig and I promise your taste buds will do a happy dance.   Here's a photo of one of my favorites that's trying out for the menu -- duck confit taquitos in avocado salsa. 


The quality is the same, the presentations just as beautiful.  Your old favorites will make an appearance, along with dishes that tend more toward traditional Mexican fare -- with Adán's touch, of course!  There will be plenty of choices for our vegetarian and gluten-free friends.

So watch this space.  I'll be posting -- here and on our Facebook page -- photos of the dishes as I try them.  The new menu will be here, too, once it goes live. 

Between now and our vacation, some of the new dishes may make an appearance as additions to our present menu.  Try them and let us know what you think.  And be sure to try the summer version of our bread pudding -- a rich coconut budín de pan topped with our house made pineapple coconut gelato.  

¡Buen provecho!

Monday, January 16, 2012

RECIPE: CORN CHOWDER PALOMA

All of Adán's soups are terrific, but this one really makes people swoon and has generated more recipe requests than any other.  So, from our kitchen to yours, here it is:


CORN CHOWDER PALOMA
(makes 8 servings)

5 ears of sweet corn (yellow or white)
1 onion
1 red bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper (optional)
1 yellow bell pepper (optional)
1 poblano pepper
1 ancho pepper (dried)
3 large potatoes, preferably Yukon gold, peeled
½ quart heavy cream
½ cup tequila (doesn’t have to be good tequila)
3 tablespoons pinole powder (or substitute approx. 2 tablespoons cornstarch)
brown sugar
salt
pepper

1.      Cut the corn kernels from the cobs.  Set cobs and kernels aside.
2.      Dice two of the potatoes and half of the onion.  Cut the ends from the bell peppers and the poblano pepper, discarding the stems and seeds.  Cut off and reserve the ends of the peppers.  Dice the remaining parts and add to the diced potatoes and onion. 
3.      Put half of the mixture from the preceding step into a small saucepan with half of the corn kernels.  Add water just to cover.  Set aside.
4.    In a large soup pot, heat a small amount of oil and add the second half of the onion (roughly chopped), the remaining potato (peeled and roughly chopped), the reserved ends of the peppers, the rest of the diced vegetable mixture, the ancho pepper (cut or torn into pieces), and the remaining corn kernels.  Cook at high heat, stirring frequently, for about two minutes.  Remove from heat and flambé with the half cup of tequila.  Once the alcohol burns off, add two quarts of cold water.  Add the reserved corn cobs, bring to a boil, and simmer for five minutes.  Add a half quart of heavy cream, return to a boil and cook for five minutes.  Turn heat to low and simmer until all of the vegetables are fork-tender, about 30-45 minutes.
5.    Remove the corn cobs and discard.  Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of brown sugar.  Set aside.
6.    Bring the saucepan of diced vegetables from Step 3 to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes once it reaches a boil.   Add a pinch of salt and a pinch of brown sugar.  Remove from heat and set aside.
7.    Purée the contents of the soup pot using an immersion blender, blender or food processor.  Strain the mixture and discard the solids. 
8.    Strain the vegetables from the saucepan and add them to the soup.  Adjust seasoning.  Thicken the soup with about 3 tablespoons of pinole or some corn starch dissolved in water.

Garnish with blue and white tortilla twigs and ancho pepper strips (thinly sliced corn tortillas and dried ancho pepper, all lightly fried until crisp).  Serve hot.
 
Optional:  add shrimp, lobster, crabmeat or chicken.
Optional:  sprinkle the soup with basil oil and guajillo-garlic oil. 

¡Buen provecho! 

Friday, April 22, 2011

INGREDIENTS: VANILLA AND VINDICATION

I love vanilla in all of its forms.

For more than a decade, my favorite vanilla product has been high quality paste, caviar-like in its appearance, with a gorgeous bouquet.  I use it in gelati, sorbets, cakes and all types of desserts.  Adán has been using it in wonderful savory sauces.

Many of my friends and acquaintances swear by the Nielsen-Massey brand.  I see it on television food shows, its label partly obscured so as not to promote but its pedigree unmistakable.  It is the go-to brand for many.  I decided to buy a bottle to try it, just to see how it compared with my own go-to brand, the Totonac line of products from Arizona Vanilla Company. 


Both jars of paste are 4 ounces.  The Nielsen-Massey was a little less expensive, $10.99 at Fante's.  The Totonac is $15.95 online (though Arizona Vanilla sometimes has sales).  For comparison, I used the Nielsen-Massey in a batch of vanilla-cinnamon gelato. 

The two pastes differ widely in appearance.  The Totonac is a true paste - thick and quite opaque.  It can pour, but very slowly.  By contrast, I was surprised to see that the Nielsen-Massey was more like a syrup - runny and transparent with visible specks of vanilla dispersed throughout.  Its fragrance was not nearly as strong as that of the Totonac, and I had to use considerably more of the Nielsen-Massey to get a good vanilla flavor in my gelato.  I was quite unimpressed with it.  When I examined the labels, I understood why.

 The ingredients list on my Totonac vanilla paste reads:  "ground vanilla beans, pure vanilla extract (water, alcohol 35%, vanilla beans), xantham gum (a natural thickener)."


The Nielsen-Massey list reads: "sugar, water, vanilla extract, vanilla beans, gum tragacanth (a natural thickener)."


By law, ingredients must be listed on the label in order of quantity, with the the ingredient making up the largest quantity of all the ingredients listed first and the smallest quantity listed last.

So, the famous vanilla paste that all my friends swear by is basically sugar water with vanilla in it!  My 4-ounce jar was exhausted in about a week and I happily returned to my tried and true Totonac.  Lesson learned.

Given these results, I feel that a disclaimer is necessary.  I have no connection whatsoever with the Arizona Vanilla Company other than that of a very satisfied customer.  They sell a variety of vanilla products on their website, all of them excellent.  You can find them at www.arizonavanilla.com.

¡Buen provecho!




Tuesday, March 1, 2011

INGREDIENTS: PITHAYA

This is the first in an occasional series of posts about some of the ingredients that we use at Paloma with which you may not be familiar.  We'll start with the lovely pithaya.

The pithaya (pee-TIE-ah) is a gorgeous fruit and, even in Mexico, is not widely available.  It's only found in some areas and has a rather short season. You can sometimes buy it here, sold in Asian markets as dragon fruit. It looks the same on the outside, but the flesh is white with a little pink, not the deep raspberry red of the Mexican variety we use in our sorbets.

Here is the pithaya, peeled. Besides sugar and a little water, it's the only ingredient in our pithaya sorbet.  Despite its assertive color, the flavor is quite delicate and very delicious. 

Because it is so hard to find, we are not able to offer pithaya sorbet all the time.  We do have it now, so stop by and try some!

RECIPE: WILD MUSHROOM FLAN

As promised, since so many of you requested it, here is Adán's recipe for Wild  Mushroom Flan.  This dish has been on our menu since we opened in 1999.  Every time he wants to take it off, the complaints are heard loud and long.  You can use cultivated mushrooms or wild ones, although the cultivated mushrooms, while delicious, will give the dish a lighter and less earthy flavor.

WILD MUSHROOM FLAN PALOMA
makes 4 servings

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup cooked sliced wild mushrooms
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp. finely chopped epazote (an herb, available dry or fresh in Mexican groceries)
salt and pepper to taste

Slice mushrooms.  Sauté mushrooms in a little olive oil until cooked, about 5 minutes.  You should have about one cup of cooked mushrooms.  Add heavy cream and epazote.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer 4-5 minutes.  Season with salt & pepper.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, add eggs and egg yolks.  Beat with a whisk until well blended.  Add the cream and mushroom mixture.  Mix until well blended.  Correct seasoning.

Set 4 medium-size ramekins in a bain marie.  Spray each ramekin with nonstick coating.  Divide mixture among the ramekins.  Add water to the bain marie and bake at 375̊ for 30-40 minutes.  If serving immediately, unmold onto a warm plate and drizzle with cilantro pesto.
 
To hold for later serving, cover well with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Remove plastic wrap and reheat in bain marie (or in a microwave at low to medium power), then unmold, drizzle with the pesto, and serve. 

CILANTRO PESTO
1 bunch fresh cilantro (leaves only)
1/4 cup fresh garlic
1/4 cup roasted pine nuts
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup blended olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, blanch cilantro leaves in boiling water for 30 seconds, then shock in ice water.  Drain well and pat dry.  Roast pinenuts.  Put all ingredients except the oil into a food processor and blend, adding olive oil slowly.  It is not necessary to purée the pesto completely — it can be left a little bit chunky.  Correct seasoning.  Heat a small amount in a saucepan and drizzle over flan.  Serve immediately.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Busting our buttons!



We are proud to announce that the prestigious James Beard Foundation has announced the semifinalists for this year's awards and, in the Best Chefs in America category, Mid-Atlantic Division, the field of twenty includes four Philadelphia chefs, including our own Adán Saavedra!!!

The Philadelphia semifinalists are:

• Pierre Calmels, Bibou
• David Gilberg, Koo Zee Doo
• Adán Saavedra, Paloma
• Michael Solomonov, Zahav

We don't even know who nominated Adán, but we are thrilled and grateful that he is included among such a talented group of chefs.  Five finalists in each group will be announced on March 21, and those chefs will be invited to the Beard Foundation's black tie event at Lincoln Center on May 9, where the winners will be announced.

The Beard awards are like the Oscars of the culinary world, and it's quite an honor just to be nominated.  Read more at www.jamesbeard.org.

Friday, October 22, 2010

RECIPE: PALOMA'S WHITE CHOCOLATE-CAJETA CHEESECAKE

One of the things we love about having this blog is that it gives us a chance to share with you the recipes for some of our more popular dishes.  By popular demand, we're starting with our renowned white chocolate cajeta cheesecake.

Cajeta is a Mexican caramel sauce.  It is readily available in any of the Mexican grocery stores that have opened throughout the Delaware Valley.  The best brand is Coronado, which comes in a plastic squeeze bottle.  (Coronado makes several varieties of cajeta - any of them will work fine.)  If you cannot find cajeta, you can use dulce de leche which comes in cans or bottles.  We do NOT recommend substituting regular caramel syrup.

PALOMA'S WHITE CHOCOLATE-CAJETA CHEESECAKE



NOTE: I make this in a 12" pan with a removable bottom. A springform pan is fine. Your pan is likely to be much smaller. If so, you can either reduce the recipe or bake the extra in a soufflé dish for a separate snack.

This recipe makes a creamy, dense, rich cheesecake, not the poofy fluffy kind.

For the crust
In the Cuisinart, put
9 Tablespoons sugar
12 Tablespoons butter
2 cups flour
(for chocolate crust, instead of 2 cups flour, I use 1 1/2 cups flour and 1/2 cup good cocoa powder)
Blend until fully mixed. Spray springform pan with nonstick spray, then sprinkle crust mixture evenly over the bottom to a depth of about 1/4 inch, being sure it covers the seam where the base meets the ring. Pat down gently. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then remove. AS SOON AS YOU REMOVE the crust from the oven, sprinkle mini chocolate chips to cover the bottom in a single layer. This step is not necessary, but adds a nice crunch to the crust while creating a moisture barrier that will keep the crust from getting soggy. Set the crust aside to cool. DO NOT turn off the oven. Turn it down to 180 to 200 degrees.
 
TIP: I make a triple or quadruple batch of the crust mixture and store it in a ziplock bag in the freezer. Why clean the Cuisinart 3 or 4 times when you can do it once?

For the filling
Before you start, put 2 to 2.5 pounds of chopped white chocolate (or white chocolate chips) in a double boiler to melt. If you don't have a double boiler, you can put a large Pyrex measuring cup or stainless steel bowl into a pot of barely simmering water. Just take care that no water splashes into the chocolate. Check the chocolate frequently and stir when the sides and bottom start to melt. While the chocolate is melting, take a can or bottle of cajeta and immerse it in hot water to make the cajeta softer and more pourable. Let it sit and proceed with the batter:

In the bowl of an electric mixer (at least 4.5 quart), put six 8-oz. packages of cream cheese. Beat until softened. Add 1 cup sugar (if you are making a variation without the white chocolate, use 1 1/2 cups). Continue beating until fully incorporated and smooth. Add 6 large eggs, beating well after each addition. Add 1 1/2 cups sour cream, 3/8 tsp. salt, and 2 Tablespoons vanilla paste or vanilla extract. Beat well.

With the mixer running, add the melted white chocolate, little by little, to the batter. Beat until it's fully incorporated.

Place 2-3 cups of the batter (the amount is not critical - measure this by eye) into a bowl and add cajeta to taste, stirring vigorously with a spoon to blend it completely. Set aside.

Assemble
Spoon half of the remaining batter into the springform pan. Smooth the top with the back of a spoon or a spatula. Spoon all of the batter/cajeta mixture evenly over the batter. Then carefully spoon the remaining half of the batter over the cajeta, covering the cajeta completely. (It's best to start with a thin layer to cover, then add the rest.)




Bake
Bake at 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 6 hours or so. Because the temperature is so low, there's a lot of wiggle room. You can put it in the oven before you go to bed and turn it off in the morning. This long slow baking prevents it from rising too fast and cracking. It also doesn't dry out. When it's finished baking, turn the oven off and leave the door closed, or open the door just a crack. Wait at least an hour before taking it out of the oven. Let it cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until the next day.

The ganache topping
In a large (4-cup) pyrex bowl or measuring cup, heat 1 1/2 to 2 cups of heavy cream in the microwave until it boils. Once it boils, remove it immediately. Wait about 30 seconds and then carefully add 12 to 16 ounces of good quality semisweet chocolate chunks or chips. (It may bubble violently when you add the first pieces - be careful.) Let stand for 10 minutes. Using a hand blender with ONE BEATER, blend until smooth and pour over the chilled cheesecake. (If you have too much, you can refrigerate the rest and roll the chilled ganache into balls, then roll in cocoa and serve like truffles ... yum.) Put the cheesecake in the refrigerator overnight to chill.

To serve
The ganache should set up in less than an hour. To cut the cheesecake, run a large sharp knife in very hot water. Slice the cheesecake, being sure to cut through the crunchy crust at the bottom. Run the knife in hot water after each cut. You may need to go over the cuts with a shorter, sharp knife to be sure the crust is cut cleanly. (At the restaurant, we get 16 slices from a 12" cheesecake.)

The cheesecake freezes well, and lasts a surprisingly long time in the refrigerator if wrapped tightly. If the plastic wrap mars the ganache, run the side of a hot knife over the ganache to smooth it before serving.

VARIATIONS:  Instead of cajeta, you can mix in raspberry puree, blueberry puree, concentrated coffee, or whatever flavor strikes your fancy.  As noted above, if you don't make the base with white chocolate, increase the sugar to 1 1/2 cups.  You are limited only by your imagination!  Have fun!