Like Water for Chocolate (1992) by Penelope Worley

Nick, Tatjana, and Julie Anne Rhodes

Just like Julie Anne ties in one of her scrumptious recipes to her blog of life’s adventures so too does this film blend in a recipe into each portion of the story. Originally a book by Laura Esquivel (which made me just as hungry for Mexican fare as watching the film). Like Water for Chocolate tells one woman’s love story.

A Pensive Jewels

Instead of being a mere personal history this story weaves food and fantastical telling of the events of her life. The youngest of three daughter’s; Tita sees the kitchen as her comfort place and learns the art of Mexican cooking. Cooking for her is the one area in her life where she has freedom to express herself and to create.

Tatjana, Emma, Peter, Christian, Petra, and Lavina – showing my family and friends love

Creating food is Tita’s way of overcoming the obstacles she and her true love, Pedro must face. Their love is thwarted by family traditions, yet those same traditions for cooking allow Tita to show her love to Pedro by expressing it through food. Your mouth will water and sparks fly when Tita serves Pedro Quail in rose petal sauce or when she prepares chicken mole. Christmas rolls, iced watermelon, chicken soup and even a traditional wedding cake that goes awry all come add to a recipe of a well lived life of romance, hardship, adventure, comedy and food!! What’s not to love?! Run to the kitchen, update your Netflix AND brush up on your Espanol!

Tatjana, me, and Emily Cash summer 2009

Thank you Penelope! I confess I have never seen the movie, but my friend Emily Cash gave me the book many years ago. It still has pride of place on my bookshelf, because I related to Tita’s creativity through food – who knows, perhaps she influenced who I am today? It was not long after reading the book that I gave up acting and took to the kitchen. Although my love of stage and film never diminished, my passion for cooking superseded them.

You should see this film or read the book (one of my all time favorite books), Tita will help inspire you with the Party Accomplished Contest! What have you been reading and/or watching lately that has inspired new culinary creations from your kitchen?

Chicken Mole

I’ve always been intrigued with the use of sweet ingredients in savory dishes, so the use of chocolate in this rich, spicy sauce is right up my alley. In the book Tita makes Turkey Mole for her nephew’s christening (they needed to feed many for a special occasion), and seduced her boyfriend in the process. Here I made a more manageable chicken mole for a few friends using the same decadent sauce to tantalize their taste buds.

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 dried ancho chile, stemmed and seeded
1 dried pasillas chilies, stemmed and seeded
1 dried chipotle pepper, stemmed and seeded
3 tablespoons raw almonds
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Serrano pepper, stemmed and seeded
4 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate
1 3 pound chicken, cut into pieces
1 lemon, zest and juice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup chicken stock
cilantro for garnish (optional)

Directions:

1). Toast the dried peppers in a large saute pan over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Remove to a large bowl, cover with water, and soak for 30 minutes; set aside.

2). In the same saute pan, toast the almonds, sesame seeds, oregano, cinnamon and cloves until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and grind in a spice grinder; set aside.

3). Again in the same saute pan, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and cook the onions, garlic and Serrano pepper over medium heat until softened, about 7-8 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and cook an additional 4-5 minutes. Pour tomato mixture into a blender along with the ground seeds and spices, sugar, chocolate, and soaked chiles along with a little of the chile soaking liquid. Puree until smooth, adding more soaking liquid if needed; set aside.

4). Heat the remaining olive oil in the same saucepan over medium heat. Squeeze the lemon juice over the chicken and sprinkle with the lemon zest, salt and pepper. Saute the chicken until browned on all sides, remove from pan to a plate tented with foil to keep warm.  Pour the mole sauce into the pan and simmer 4-5 minutes. Add the chicken back into the pan with sauce, cover, and simmer an additional 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Serving Suggestions:

The rich, spicy complexity of the sauce begs for the simplicity of a steamed green vegetable and rice to help balance and cool the palate.

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