Ancho Chiles in Bloomington

Last week, John and I took a trip to Indiana - first to Fort Wayne, then down to Bloomington. We spent the first two nights with Carla, who made us an unbelievably good Mexican meal (the recipes came from this cookbook).

That's Carla pouring the flan mixture before baking it. That's right - flan. Chocolate-Kahlua flan.

She says that cookbook has ruined Mexican restaurant food for her, probably because restaurants don't spend time re-hydrating 2-3 kinds of chiles for each dish.

I was very curious about this whole process, and stayed on Carla's heels to take pictures of the re-hydration process.

First, she seeded them to keep the spiciness level under control.

Then she heated them, dry, in a cast iron pan to warm them up before soaking them in warm water for a while. This is the point in the process where my plans to capture every moment on film really changed. The smoke that the peppers gave off was really spicy, and for whatever reason, I wasn't prepared for this. I ran coughing from the kitchen and had to sit by the open window to breath for a while. So I missed a few photographable moments.

Meanwhile, John began watching Titanic. As an illustration of how complicated the recipes were, we finished the entire movie before eating dinner (or all but the last 5 minutes), though sometimes we just had it on in the background. Carla is right in saying that you have to accept how complicated the recipes are if you want to make them, but it's worth it (or, it seemed worth it to me!).

This poached pork was the main ingredient for pork tacos with raisins and almonds, in some kind of delicious sauce.

We also assisted in the prep for empanadillas with olives, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes. You can see John rolling out the puff pastry, above.

Also, some old Democrat napkins, probably from one of our joint Obama parties two years ago.

They made for a lovely appetizer, along with Carla's delicious guacamole.

I wish I had more pictures of the finished meal, but was able to get one picture of the flan - because I went back for seconds the following day. It was ridiculously rich and good.

I'm really glad we got to spend so much time with Carla during our trip to Bloomington. If our schedules permit, we may get to hang out with her for a little while during our trip to Indy for AM/SMT this fall.

More on our Bloomington fun to come...

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