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Thanksgiving Spice – Chef Camerino Torres

LAS CASUELAS TERRAZA, PALM SPRINGS

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What better way to celebrate our country’s rich culture than by fusing a traditional American holiday with flavors from other countries? 

Promising a new world where people could live free, America became a melting pot of cultures ever since the Mayflower landed in Plymouth, Mass. The “land of opportunity” fuses more ethnic flavors than any other country in the world.

Throughout the centuries, as people continued to emigrate from every continent in the world, many adopted the “American” way of doing things. However, certain ethnic customs and influences have thankfully simmered through, mixing and mingling in the most delightful ways, especially in the area of gastronomy.

Three desert chefs — one Italian, one French, and one Mexican — who moved to the States to pursue their culinary dreams, talk about how their love of dishes from home influence their celebration of the traditional American holiday of Thanksgiving.

CHEF CAMERINO TORRES
LAS CASUELAS TERRAZA
PALM SPRINGS

Hot peppers, chili, cilantro, avocados, tomatoes, and chocolate bring a distinctive Mexican flair to Camerino Torres’ Thanksgiving meals.

“I feel so proud when I prepare traditional Mexican food,” Torres says. “Since the preparation can take a long time, the celebration and joy in eating it with family and friends gives me great pleasure.”

Torres’ first Thanksgiving when he moved to the desert 24 years ago comprised traditional American fare: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, and pies. “Once I married, with a family of my own, the holiday became more meaningful to me as a family celebration,” he says. “Making different types of Mexican recipes for this meal has always been a passion.

“For Thanksgiving, my family loves having turkey with mole sauce,” Torres says.

“It enhances the meat’s flavor to perfection. We serve that dish with a Spanish rice and, mmm, deliciosa y riquisima!”

In 2005, all of his brothers and sisters visited from Mexico to celebrate the holiday together. “We had so much fun,” Torres says. “When you gather from different parts, coming together to share that particular family meal, it just makes it all the more special.”

TOSTADITAS DE GUACAMOLE
8 avocados, cubed
4 tomatoes, diced
1 c. red onion, diced
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
3 oz. fresh lime juice
Arils of one pomegranate
1 T. salt
1 T. white pepper
30 Tostaditas (mini tostada chips)
6 oz. queso ranchero (can be purchased in
the refrigerated section of a grocery store)

Combine avocados, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lime juice, and arils. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon on tostaditas. Add queso ranchero crumbles on top as a garnish.

Serves 12 to 16

PAVO EN MOLE
1 turkey, 10-12 lbs, cut in separate pieces
8 ancho chilies, dried and destemmed
8 California chilies, dried and destemmed
8 cloves garlic
1 T. ground cumin
2 T. ground oregano
3 T. Mexican chocolate (if chocolate is fresh,
you can crumble it; if it is hard, you can grate it with a cheese grater)
8 whole cloves
3 T. salt
1 c. toasted sesame seeds
4 oz. flour
4 oz. vegetable oil

Cook turkey over low heat approximately two hours in large soup pot covered in salted water. Separate the broth without fat and set aside.

Put chilies in a large skillet over medium heat, turning them until toasted on all sides. Remove chilies and soak in 3 cups of hot water for 20 minutes. Drain.

Place garlic, cumin, oregano, chocolate, cloves, salt, sesame seeds, flour, and chilies into a large blender. Pulse and combine till smooth. Strain mixture and chili skins and set aside.

Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat and gently add chilies mixture. Simmer 5 minutes. Add turkey pieces and 6 cups of turkey broth and simmer until the mole thickens, about 15-20 minutes.

Serves 12 to 16

BUNUELOS
DOUGH:
2 1 /2 c. flour
2 eggs
1 T. baking powder
8 oz. lard, melted
4 T. sugar

CINNAMON MIX:
1 c. sugar
1 T. ground cinnamon

SYRUP:
2 c. water
2 c. 4 oz. brown sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
5 Cloves
4 Cinnamon sticks
2 c. vegetable oil

Place flour on a flat surface and form a well. In the center, add remaining dough ingredients. Mix by hand, working to form a manageable dough. Let dough rest one hour before rolling into a thin layer, about 1/8-inch thick.

Cut dough in 2- and 3-inch rounds for different displays.

Combine sugar and cinnamon.

Fry buneulos in melted lard and then toss in cinnamon mixture.

In a saucepan, combine syrup. Heat on medium heat until reduced to half. Pour through a strainer. Drizzle syrup on top of bunuelos.
Bunuelos can be served hot or cold.

Serves 12 to 16

Las Casuelas Terraza
222 S Palm Canyon Dr
Palm Springs, CA 92262-6312
Phone    760-325-2794

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