As we continue to step up our bar snack game at Al Pastor, we continue to look at typical Mexican antojitos for inspiration.
The term gordita can mean different things regionally. In this case, it means a small, extra thick tortilla made from corn masa that's been stained with mild guajillo chile. The tortillas are fried on the griddle, sliced in half laterally and used the same way you would use two slices of bread to make a sandwich. This one gets stuffed with a simple mixture of potatoes and green chiles.
It made the menu because it's delicious, but also because I love how it's in opposition of our current carbo-phobic climate.
This dish will debut on the menu November 1st.
Now that the air has finally turned crisp, we take cues to convert our offering of strawberries to one of apples (with some other fall tree fruits snuck in as well).
Apple Sauce Topped with Apple Pico de Gallo
Apple Ribbons Stained with Tumeric
Asian Pear with Yuzu and Chile
Apple Butter Cake with Buckwheat and Licorice
Apple Skin Ice Encapsulating Apple Flesh Sorbet
Toasted Cranberry-Apple Marshmallow
Hard Apple Cider Spike with Mezcal
Pomegranate Poached Quince
Pate de Fruit are traditional French candies made out of fruit puree, sugar, and pectin.
Pastry chefs love to make them because they are not labor intensive to make and they are shelf stable.
This is important because pastry chefs are often asked to make “mignardise” for the restaurants they work in so that there is something special to serve with the check at the end of the meal.
This is exactly why we make them at Empellón.
Lately, we have been making a tamarind flavor pate de fruit, cut into little cubes. The flavor of is awesome but we have decided that the color, stature and form were not grabbing the guests attention.
We don't want anything to feel like an after thought, but simultaneously we need to make something that our servers can quickly place on a plate themselves due to our restaurant being both large and busy.
When I was a child, my mom used to buy me these jelly style candies that were actually shaped and colored to look like slices of citrus fruit. They didn't have a fancy name like “pate de fruit” though. We just called them jellied fruit slices. I was so young when I used to eat these that I thought they were real fruit, just sweeter and prettier somehow.
I asked our pastry chef, Justin Binnie if he could make these from my youth and it turns out that he could.
These little orange jellies are formed to look like actual slices of orange. Because of the extra effort, they become instantly more special and much more difficult to pass up.
Being that we are a Mexican inspired restaurant we also have the added bonus option of seasoning the jellies with a pinch of sal de gusanos at the table and serving it with a little shot of crema de mezcal as a gift for our most special guests.
Getting your hands on an ingredient that is rare and new is always exciting.
Our good friends at Masienda gave us a special gift of chicatanas recently.
For those who are not aware, chicatanas are large flying ants. They are considered a special treat in Oaxaca because they are delicious and nourishing. Their season for harvest is also very short.
The ants are cleaned in several changes of water, seasoned with lime juice and toasted. The legs, wings etc. are removed, and the body of the ant is the only part used.
Once prepared, chicatanas find their way into traditional salsas and moles.
We are excited to use this new ingredient and in order to think of how, we chose to apply free association.
Growing up, spreading peanut butter on celery sticks was a typical snack I made for myself at home. If I had any raisins in the pantry, I would arrange those on the peanut butter, which gives the snack the official title of “ants on a log.”
Here we take a tender celery branch and pipe some savory peanut butter on top. We topped the peanut butter with a few shakes of a special hot sauce that we made from the chicatanas as well as some of the actual chicatanas.
The “ant” phase of “ants on a log” has been made literal.