First, if you haven’t met the bolillo, or Mexican bread roll, let me introduce you to the best in San Francisco, at King’s Bakery on Mission between 24th and 25th sts. Several times a day, these come piping hot, right out of the oven, and at $.25 a pop, people buy them by the dozens. No, life is not all tortillas in Mexico! Try these with a spread of Well-fried Black Beans (preparation explained in Part II of this series on leftovers), a chunk of Queso Fresco from Chico’s Produce on 24th and Alabama, and some lettuce, tomato and avocado for a delicious vegetarian sandwich. Or pile up Escabeche (see recipe for Tortas de Verduras en Vinagre con Frijoles at the bottom of this column: A Guide to the Mission’s Pandaderias) and just dig in!
Now that you’ve given in to the temptation to buy way too many bolillos, what to do with the stale bread? Here are two recipes:
- Pan Molido (literally “milled bread” or breadcrumbs)- why do you want to make your own? First, the mark-up on bradcrumbs is ridiculous. Progresso Italian Style sell from from $2.89 to $3.49 for a 15 oz. box- that’s 20 cents ounce! You already have the stale bread, and everything else is probably in your pantry, so basically, this is a freebie! Second, since this column is about Mexican cuisine, who wants Italian Style breadcrumbs. You control what goes into the molido, and if you have the time to hand-mill your own seasonings (see Exploring Mexican cooking techniques) you can create a preparation with more flavor than you thought possible in breadcrumbs. Third, wait until you see how much breadcrumbs come from just a few leftover rolls, you’ll be astonished! Seasonings we use at Tres Señoritas Gourmet to create a good Mexican-style breadcrumb mix are:
- Stale bread- the best way to mill this without creating a paste is to make sure the bread is good and dry (you can even slow-bake for an hour or so in a 200° oven, depending upon how old the bread is, maybe longer) and use your food processor on “pulse”, flipping it on and off so as to avoid over-milling.
- Garlic powder
- Cumin- either packaged as powder, in which case try the clear plastic envelopes you’ll find hanging on racks at Chico’s Produce or Casa Lucas both on 24th St. between Harrison and Florida, labelled Comino for $.99- or dry-roast and moler (mill) your own to release more flavor.
- Cayenne or Dried Chipolte Powder (again, you may want to “pound” your own using a Molcajete y Tejolote or mortar and pestle. For more on this topic, see Chipotles: what are they and and how to use them
- Sea salt
- Onion powder
Don’t hestitate to experiment with your own combination of seasonings, and as to quantities of the above, you’ll want to taste what you are preparing and adjust accordingly. Now, you are ready to make Milanesa (follow link for recipe), a thin, breaded, pan-fried cutlet of chicken or beef that’s quick and easy, and now, with your homemade Pan Molida, especially delicious. Add your milanesa to a fresh bolillo, and you’ve come full-circle with a tasty torta!
- Capriotada (bread pudding) Recipe from Tres Señoritas Gourmet
- 6 stale bolillos
- 3-4 piloncillos (2 cups) or substitute dark brown sugar
- 4″ piece of stick cinnamon
- 1 whole clove
- 1-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
- 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 C. butter
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup pecans, chopped
- 1/2 cup blanched almonds, chopped
- 1/2 pound Manchego cheese
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 quart whole milk
- Wax paper
- Seasonal berries and whipped cream (optional)
Tear (don’t slice) the bollios into bite-sized chunks. Melt the butter and toss with bread to coat. Toast coated bread chunks quickly under a broiler, turning as needed until brown, taking care not to burn them. Now, pre-heat oven to 350° F and butter a bundt mold. To use piloncillos (“little loaves” of smoky, caramely and earthy sugar found in Casa Lucas, Chico’s Produce,) pound with a meat hammer while its still in its plastic baggie. For more about Piloncillo and before you give into the temptation to subsititute that brown sugar which is within easy reach, take a look at La Diferencia- five common cooking ingredients with an accent. Do a taste test- there really is a significant difference in flavor between the two sugars. In a medium saucepan with a cup of water, add cinnamon, clove, lemon and orange peels and bring to a boil, lower flame to simmer for 5-10 minutes until mixture forms a syrup. Strain and cover to keep warm.
Line a buttered bundt pan with wax paper, layer 1/3 of the bread cubes, 1/3 of the raisins, nuts and cheese and 1/3 of the syrup, letting it soak into the bread. Continue layering bread, raisins, nuts and cheese, dousing each layer with syrup. Finish with a layer of cheese. Pour the rest of the syrup over the whole dish.bake for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven. In mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored. Gradually beat in the milk and vanilla. Pour over the baked bread, and return to oven for 40 minutes until the top of the custard is golden-brown. Allow to cool for at least half and hour before reversing mold to serve. Serve warm, with seasonal berries in the middle and topped with whipped cream.
If this seems like too much trouble, order the amazing, authentic Capriotada at Mamacitas (see my review Slow food meets Mexican cuisine at Mamacitas).