Monthly Archives: December 2011

Biscochitos – New Mexico State Cookie is Seasonal Favorite

SANTA FE, N.M.  –  In a town known for upscale New Mexican cuisine, the best holiday dishes might be the simplest.

Biscochitos served at the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, NM by Ashley Parrish, Tulsa World

Biscochitos served at the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, NM by Ashley Parrish, Tulsa World

By:  Ashley Parrish, World Scene Editor, Tulsa World, published 12/18/11.  This article was syndicated from the Tulsa World, click here for the original article.

Tamales are traditional. Cover them in red and green chile and they’re even called “Christmas-style,” although the term is used year-round.

And then there are Biscochitos.

Home cooks and bakers alike make batches of the thin shortbread cookies at Christmas. Diamonds, rounds, they come in all shapes. But they’re always mildly flavored with anise seeds and liquor and are finished in cinnamon sugar.

The state cookie of New Mexico is traditionally made with lard, and many natives won’t stand for substitutes. But this recipe from the Santa Fe Cooking School allows for vegetable shortening. It won’t be quite as traditional but is still delicious.

Holiday Biscochitos

Makes 4 to 5 dozen cookies

1 pound (2 cups) lard or vegetable shortening
1  1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons toasted anise seeds
6 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brandy

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream the lard, or shortening. Add sugar, eggs and anise seeds and cream again. Mix dry ingredients separately and combine with the shortening mixture. Add the brandy and mix thoroughly.

3. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and cut into desired shapes. Sprinkle the cookie shapes with the sugar-cinnamon mixture and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until lightly browned.

–  Courtesy Santa Fe School of Cooking

The Atlantic names Santa Fe Most Artistic City in America, November 30, 2011

Richard Florida, Senior Editor of The Atlantic, posed the question in November, 2011 “which U.S. cities and metros have the most extensive artistic communities?”

With the help of Kevin Stolarick from the Martin Prosperity Institute,  he used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to rank the leading metros areas for their numbers of artists and the artists’ concentration relative to their population. They determined there are about 237,000 artists across the U.S., of which roughly 210,000 are located in cities and metro areas, in the category “artists and related orkers”, which covers both employed and self-employed visual artists in the United States:.

As expected, the list of the top cities with the largest number of artists tended to follow population size.  New York was first in total number of artists, followed by Los Angeles, Chicago came in third, San Francisco in fourth and Seattle in fifth place.

But when the author examined which metros have the largest concentration of artists relative to their population, the results were different. Using a measure called a “location quotient,” or LQ,  a ratio that compares a region’s share of artists to the national share of artists, Santa Fe came in first.

An LQ of one implies that its regional share equals the national average; less than one is less than the national average and greater than one is more than the national average. An LQ of two, for example, means a region has twice the national average of artists.  Santa Fe’s LQ was a whopping 7.587, almost double its closest competitor, San Fransciso, which had an LQ of 3.825, followed by New York at 2.573 and Los Angeles at 2.513.

Thanks to Richard Florida for quantifying what is immediately apparent the moment one sets foot in Santa Fe.  Art and beauty are everywhere!

To read the complete article, Most Artistic Cities in America.

 

Business Insider reports Santa Fe ranks 11th on list of the Top 15 Housing Markets for the next 5 years, December 8, 2011

Santa Fe after Winter Storm, photo by Renee Edwards

Business Insider recently reported that the latest data from Fiserv Case Shiller shows that national home prices are expected to grow at an annualized rate of 3.2% between 2011 and Q2 2016.

Business Insider combed through Fiserv’s data and picked the 15 best housing markets for the next five years.  Santa Fe ranked number 11 of out of the top 15 on Business Insider’s List of the best housing markets for the next five years.  Business Insider predicted Santa Fe would have “Annualized growth from 2011 – 2016: +9.1%“.

Business Insider further reported “Santa Fe has a low unemployment rate of 5.4% and a median household income of $70,000. Its home prices are only down 17.7% since they peaked in Q4 2007.
Data provided by Fiserv Case Shiller Indexes”
To read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/best-real-estate-markets-2016-2011-12# Original article by Mamta Badkar, December 8, 2011.

In Santa Fe, you fall in love with chilies, The Boston Globe, November 16, 2011

Deena Chafetz teaches a chili workshop at Santa Fe School of Cooking. Photo by Selina Kok for The Boston Globe

By Diane Daniel, Globe Correspondent 

This article was syndicated from The Boston Globe.  For a copy of the original article, click here.

SANTA FE — “Red or green?’’ In New Mexico, those three words make up the official state question. If you want both red and green  chili pepper sauce, you ask for “Christmas.’’

“We put them in everything and on everything; it’s what makes our cuisine special,’’ explains Deena Chafetz, a chef and teacher of the “Chile Amor’’ class at the venerable Santa Fe School of Cooking.

After this 90-minute workshop, which costs $50 per person, you are in a better position to decipher menus, know what’s in chili-infused guacamole, carne adovada (pork marinated in red chili), pizza with green chili sauce, and green chili beer. Early on, you can get what we call “chili chap’’: chapped lips from low humidity further irritated by hot food, certainly a rite of passage for any visitor from a more humid climate.

 We are 16 students from around the country, unified on our most burning question: Which is hotter, red or green? Her answer: It depends.

“The first thing you need to know is that red and green chilies are not different varieties. They’re the same peppers,’’  Chafetz says, smiling as she sees us novices absorb this new information. “All green peppers eventually turn red. So a hot green pepper will be a hot red pepper. Beyond that, it depends on the plant, the region, the soil, the weather. They can go from mild to very hot. So at a restaurant you need to ask, ‘Which is hotter today?’ It changes from day to day.’’

We learn that green chili sauce is always made from fresh roasted and peeled peppers (they can be frozen after roasting), while red sauce is made from either dried chili pods or chili powder.

“When I say powder, I’m not talking about what you all call chili powder,’’ she says. “Our chili powders are pure. What you use is for chili con carne, which is what the rest of the country calls chili. We New Mexicans do acknowledge its existence, but that’s about it.’’

We divide into groups and work at cooking stations to grill, peel, and dice green peppers, adding them to an onion and garlic mixture, and we make two red chili sauces, one from powder, and the other from pods. We sample them all on homemade tortillas.

“These are your staples,’’ Chafetz says. “Chilies are like wine. Not only do they taste different from different regions, as you get to know the flavors, you pair them with different foods.’’

For now, though, it is enough to know the difference between green and red. Which means that when we stop by the vibrant Santa Fe Farmers’
Market the next day, I have some inkling of what farmer Matt Romero isdoing as he turns a large drum over a flame to roast just-harvested green chilies. From August and into October, chili roasters set up shop across the state, at markets and in parking lots, selling charred, peeled and diced chilies by the bushel and infusing the air with an intoxicating aroma. (Bushels of green peppers are also set aside to redden and dry for later use.)

Romero explains the roasting process to photo-snapping tourists as he turns the crank. “We do this roasting in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado,’’ he says. “I don’t think you’ll find it anywhere else. It’s part of our culture.’’

One woman who has stopped at Romero’s stand is hauling off a clear plastic bag filled with about 35 pounds of chopped green chilies. “I’ll take this and divide it into quart size Ziplocs, and they’ll last all winter,’’ explains Shar Jimenez, a Santa Fe resident for 16 years. “I’ll use it over things, as a side, and as a garnish.’’ The heat level, she says, is “good and hot. I’d say a 7 or 8 out of 10. I have a 6-year-old daughter, so we won’t be using it as much as we used to.’’

As she hoists the bag into her back seat, she adds, “It’s also my car freshener. Smell how perfumey and fruity it is?’

Chafetz had told the class that California Anaheim chilies were the best (but not a perfect) East Coast substitute for fresh New Mexican peppers, but Romero has a better solution. “You want to time your vacation to the harvest, then just double bag a bushel and throw it in your checked luggage.’’
Santa Fe School of Cooking  116 West San Francisco St.,  Santa Fe, 800-982-4688, Classes start at $50 per person; market on site. 

Santa Fe Farmers’ Market   1607 Paseo De Peralta (Santa Fe Railyard), Santa Fe, 505-983-4098, Open Sat and Tue,  8 a.m.-1 p.m.