Marx Madness

Remember last year when my foodie obsession with Marx Foods¬†began? I remember it like it was just yesterday, aahh¬†that Mangalitsa ham *sigh*. Well, thanks to that very gorgeous piece of ham, I’ve been lucky enough to receive samples of their products as rewards for creating recipes. I’ve gotten so many goodies, it’s madness! The best part is that it allows me to stretch my foodie wings and palate and that makes me a better (and bigger) foodie, cook, aficionada, etc, etc.

Tellicherry Peppercorns from Marx Foods

I submitted recipes for more of their contests, which means I’ve gotten more goodies. I have a box of yummy things in my pantry. Since work has been so hectic, I’ve not had much time to experiment in the kitchen, even less time to share the results with you guys. But I’ve been dying to tell you¬†about a couple of dishes I came up with using some of my loot. This post is not a very good step-by-step one. I blame it on work and exhaustion, that said, these two dishes are way too good not to share with you! Oh.eM.Gee!!! These were sooooo good! I’m drooling¬† just thinking about them.

¬†Keep in mind, many of the spices were gifts from the good Marx Foods peeps, they are not paying me to say good things about them. What they do want is some honest feedback about their products and hopefully, if all is good, that may generate new customers for them. I know I’m onboard. OK, that’s my little disclaimer, on with the food!
I made two separate dishes for this evening, a Chayote¬†and Mushroom Cream as an appetizer and, for the entr√©e,¬†Beef Cheeks with Ancho¬†& Guajillo¬†Peppers over White Truffle Rice Cakes. Yeah. Uhuh. Sounds √ľber
good, doesn’t it? I can’t tell you how good they both were, but I’m gonna try.

Let’s start with the soup. You probably know I’m a huge fan of chayote squash, it was one of the few veggies my Mami¬†could get me to eat when I was a kid. As of late, I’ve been using them in a few new-to-me ways, you can find some really good recipes on my blog by doing a ‘chayote’ search. This little vegetable has a very mild taste most similar to a yellow squash IMO.

Chayote and Mushroom Cream

For the soup, I used a variety of dehydrated mushrooms,¬†oyster, porcini and shitake,¬†from Marx Foods. I steeped them in hot water¬†for about an hour, then strained them out and used the reserved liquid to cook the chayotes. I ran the mushroom broth through a coffee filter to catch any grit–though there was none to be found.

Oyster, Shitake and Porcini Mushrooms

I peeled and cubed 3 chayotes, then cooked them until tender in the mushroom broth (you may need to add a bit more water, just enough to cover the chayotes. The broth was seasoned with Smoked Salt. Once the chayotes are tender, run them through the blender to puree the soup. Return to the pot and add heavy cream, about 1/2 cp or to taste.

Smoked Salt and Tellicherry Peppercorns

While the chayotes cooked, I roughly chopped the mushrooms and sautéed them in 2-3 tbsp of butter. I added 1 tsp ground Tellicherry Peppercorns, more Smoked Salt and about 1/2 cp of dry sherry that was cooked into the mushrooms. Keep warm.

To plate: pour the cream in your bowl, top with a dollop of  the sautéed mushrooms, a sprinkling of the Smoked Salt and grated Manchego or Parmesan cheese.

Now, what can I tell you about the entr√©e…??? I had never cooked beef cheeks before, but I find myself obsessed with them now. I will admit it isn’t one of those things you can make on the fly, because that meat needs to be brought into submission before making it magical. I certainly hope you give it a try, the rewards are indescribable. The meat is melt in your mouth tender and possesses a sweet unctuousness about it.

Ancho & Guajillo Chilies

For this recipe I finished the cheeks with Guajillo & Ancho Peppers and a bit of Fennel Pollen, this gave the final dish a perfect balance of sweet, savory and spiciness that had The Hubbz and I swooning over our plates. The above decadence sat atop rice cakes that had been laced with White Truffle Oil and cream before being crisped in butter.

Fennel Polen from Marx Foods

The scent and taste of the Truffle Oil was so rich and intoxicating, it played beautifully against the other ingredients. I then channelled Iron Chef Symon and topped this concoction with a watercress salad that helped cut through this incredibly rich plate. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Beef Cheeks with Ancho & Guajillo Peppers and White Truffle Rice Cakes

To prepare the beef cheeks, I removed any excess fat and tendons early in the day, just before allowing it to braise for an hour or so in water that was seasoned with a couple cloves of garlic (peels and all), bay leaf, salt & pepper. Once tender, cut into cubes, but make sure to reserve the broth produced.

I simmered 2 guajillos and 2 anchos in about 1 cp of the reserved broth, just until they became soft, about 10-15 minutes. If you want to minimize the heat in the dish, remove the seeds before steeping the peppers. I allowed the peppers to cool just enough to handle and chopped them up and added them to a hot pan with about 1tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, followed by 2 tsps of Fennel Pollen, the zest of 1 orange, 1/4 cp of dry sherry, the cubed meat and seasoned with salt & pepper. I added enough of the reserved broth to simmer the beef until it was melt-in-my-mouth tender, about 30-40 minutes.

While the cheeks cooked, I added 1 tbsp of  White Truffle Oil and 3 tbsp of heavy cream  and 2 tbsp of finely chopped chives to about 2 cps of cooked leftover jasmine rice. I formed the mixture into 4 patties and placed them in the freezer for about an hour to make them easier to handle. Once they were firm on the outside, I  ran them through a breading station: flour-egg-panko crumbs. These were then crisped in a skillet in a combo of butter and oil until golden brown.

I made a make-shift vinaigrette for the watercress, by combining the juice of the orange with a bit of Truffle Oil (probably less than 2 tsps), I dressed the watercress with the vinaigrette and a sprinkling of salt & pepper just before serving.

To plate: I placed 2 rice cakes on the plate, topped them with the beef braise and topped that with the watercress salad. Once you make this and take the first bite, you really will think you died and went on to happy orgasmic heaven.

About the Marx Foods ingredients aka The Loot:

Tellicherry Peppercorns: I love these and will be adding them to my pepper mill. Its black peppers on roids! Really big, bold peppery goodness. A must have.

Smoked Salt: I think it is really cool just to look at, but the flavor it adds to your food is surprising. It really makes it taste smoky. Really excited to have my hands on this one.

Dried mushrooms : These were good, but I wasn’t wild about the texture of them, it made me think of seaweed. I still have some left and will try them again, because I think I might’ve not reconstituted them properly. For now, I’m sticking to the fresh stuff.

Dried Guajillo¬†and Ancho Peppers: I simply love these and I’m pretty familiar with them and have them available at almost every grocery store here in town. I did notice that these seemed ‘cleaner’?? Sometimes when I pick them up at the grocers here they look ‘dusty’ and I rinse them before use. The Marx peppers were ready to go.

Fennel Pollen: Yeah, another keeper. This was the second time I incorporated it into a recipe and I absolutely love it!

White Truffle Oil: This baby is sooo good, it should come with its own choir so that you here them chant ‘aaaaaaaaah’ everytime you open the bottle. Gimme, gimme!

There’s more Marx Goodness to come, so stay tuned.

Cookingly yours,

Don’t knock it till you try it.

I’m not sure how to get into this post, except to channel the hubby.
This is not a broth, it’s a soup.
This is not a soup, it’s a stew.
This is not a stew, it’s a symphony¬†of savory flavors that titillate on your palate and leave you wanting for more.

This is a dish I love and have loved since childhood. This is also one of those dishes I don’t eat freely just anywhere. It is something Linz vowed never to eat, but now begs for it. Preparation for this one is important and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Whenever I make it, I do so in large quantities because I’d rather get the prep done and move on, but also because we fight over every little bite of it.


The dish is Mondongo aka Tripe Stew. But see, I think tripe is an icky sounding word, which is why I had such a tough time starting this post. Let’s find out about the main ingredient.

You get tripe from an animal’s stomach; the stomach’s lining has a couple different chambers. Commercially available beef tripe is usually the honeycomb and flat tripe variety. It should be cleaned with great care and rinsed a few times, this will prevent any undesirable odors when cooking it.

Preparation and cleaning.
You need to remove any excess fat attached to the tripe. It’s easiest to buy the tripe in a large piece, this will make cleaning it much easier. I use a knife for this process. For this recipe, I used 3 lbs of the flat + 1 lb of the honeycomb tripe.

Once you have removed the excess fat, rinse it a few times. Usually I will submerge it once in water with 2 tbsp white vinegar. Rinse with clean cool water. Then again, but this time submerging in water with the juice from 1 lime/lemon. Rinse and drain. It is now ready to cut into pieces about the size of the top of your thumb–1 inch or so.

In a large stock pan, add 1/2 of a whole onion, 4 cloves of garlic–there’s no need to peel either. Also add 5 whole cloves, 10 peppercorns, 1 tbsp salt, 2 tsps¬†Jugo¬†Maggi OR Worcestershire, 2 tsp crushed oregano, 4 bay leaves, 5 culantro leaves OR a good handful of cilantro, stems and all. Add the tripe over this, and a 3 inch piece of salt pork or 4 strips of bacon. Add water to cover it all, bring it to a boil, lower the temperature to a slow simmer and allow it to cook for 1.5 hours. At this point it will still be quite al dente, not edible yet. Remove it from the heat, drain, rinse and remove all the aromatics. Set aside.

Optional: If you’d like, you can also add pig’s feet to the mondongo. In that case, you’ll want to rinse the pig’s feet by submerging them in warm water with vinegar, then¬†giving them a good rinse with cool water. Cook them separately using the same aromatics used for the tripe, if you want to preserve the difference in flavors between the feet and tripe. OR simply add them to the same pot you’re cooking the tripe in. Cook the feet about an hour, they will still be tough. Rinse and set aside.

Now for the good stuff, this is where the stew begins. Oh joy!

Mondongo a la Culona
4 lbs cooked tripe
1 lb cooked pig’s feet
1/4 cp salt pork or bacon, cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 lg onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cps carrots, chopped small
1 lg red bell pepper, chopped
3 bay leaves
4-5 culantro leaves OR 1/2 cp cilantro, chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsps Jugo Maggi or Worcestershire
1 tsp beef bouillon
1 1/2 tsps sugar
1 tsp habanero sauce
1 28 oz tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cp olives
1 cp beer or white wine, optional
1/3 cp Parmesan cheese, grated

In the same stock pot you boiled the tripe, heat the oil and add pork fat, onions, garlic, bell pepper and carrots. Allow it to cook until they begin to soften. Add the culantro, bay leaves, tomatoes. Then add the habanero, Jugo¬†Maggi, sugar, tomato paste, salt, bouillon and beer. Check your seasonings, and if happy, add the tripe and pig’s feet. Make sure you stir it well and that the liquid covers the contents of the pot. Add water if necessary. Bring it to a boil, then lower temperature and allow it to simmer slowly.

Stir it every once in a while, but you can pretty much forget about it for about an hour. At that time, add the olives and allow it to simmer uncover for another 30-40 minutes or until the tripe is VERY tender. If you used the pig’s feet, you can pull them out once tender and take the meat off the bone, then add it back into the stew.

 If the broth is too runny, mix 2 tbsps cornstarch with about 1/4 cp water and stir it in. Make sure you allow it to boil before turning off the heat.

Serve this with rice, you will love it.