Who are we?
Born in 1961 in Mexico, Mili is a trained Chef and teaches Mexican cooking. She is also an amateur photographer. Mili has two children, Becky and Samuel, and four grandchildren, all of whom live in Israel, and so she makes sure to pamper them every time she visits by cooking her Mexican delicacies. “I always fill my suitcase with tortillas, tacos and nachos, and happily pay the fine for being overweight at the airport because my grandchildren love it so much,” Mili says proudly with a wide smile.
Born in 1964 in Mexico, Ariel is a psychologist by education and works in asset management. He is an amateur nature and architecture photographer. Ariel’s daughter, Yael, also lives in Mexico. Like many, due to the pandemic Ariel has had to work from home this past year, but was delighted to do so. Being the biggest fan of Millie’s cooking, he can now enjoy them daily and at any time.
Shai, the family dog
13 years old. “he is a part of the family. We found him on the street shortly after we met and we named him Shai (meaning ‘gift’ in Hebrew) because he is like a gift to us” says Mili. “Every day I cook him chicken and rice with vegetables, like carrot and zucchini, and he really loves it. Because he is not well, I now steam his food in the Thermomix, as it is healthier and better for him. Anyone that comes to visit wants to try Shai’s food.”
Where was the photo taken?
Mili and Ariel met in 2008 and live in the La Herradura neighborhood on the outskirts of Mexico City. “Our house is always open, and we love to entertain,” says Ariel. “Food plays an important role: we invite friends over to really eat, not just to meet.” The kitchen and dining area, covered with plants and especially orchids, is the couple’s favorite part of the house. “We spend every opportunity here,” they say.
Our family kitchen
Mili learned to cook from her mother who’s grandmother emigrated to Mexico from Poland. “I will never forget how she taught me to sew a stuffed chicken: I was only 10 years old, and with the help of a needle and a special thread made of cotton I sewed the chicken so that the filling would not spill out.” Even today, the stuffed chicken features on their table in Rosh Hashanah and Pesach, along with other Eastern European dishes, such as chopped liver (one of Ariel‘s favorite dishes) and Gefilte Fish (one of Ariel’s least favorite dishes) cooked the Mexican Jewish way: fish cakes poached in tomato, olives and hot peppers sauce (naturally), named Veracruzana after the Gulf region of Mexico, where most of the Jews who immigrated from Europe landed, and where it is estimated that the dish was first created”, Mili explains.
Chile Relleno- stuffed peppers
Mili’s stuffed peppers is Ariel’s favorite dish. “But unlike the famous Mexican pepper, which is usually stuffed with meat and fried, I fill mine with cheese, and I do not fry the peppers in the same way,” says Mili, who makes sure to serve this dish at least once a week, much to Ariel’s satisfaction.
Ingredients (Serves 6):
6 roasted poblano peppers, seeded
50 grams (3 ½ Tbs) butter (or margarine)
1 large onion, finely chopped
50 grams (1.7oz) AP flour
1 cup (225 g) cooking cream
About ½ cup (80 g) sour cream
1 Tbs chicken bouillon powder (parve)
For the cheese filling:
Combination of cheeses, total 500 grams/ 1.1lb:
Manchego cheese (can be replaced with other aged hard sheep’s milk cheese)
Oaxaca cream cheese (can be replaced with mozzarella cheese)
Philadelphia cream cheese
- Roast the peppers over a direct fire, in a pan or in the oven grill until they are charred and blistering on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plastic bag, seal tightly, cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Remove the peppers from the bag and very carefully peel off the thin skin without tearing the peppers: place on a cutting board and, using a sharp knife, peel each pepper and remove the veins and seeds.
- Rinse the peppers under the running water and gently pat dry with a towel.
- Mix the cheeses for the filling in a bowl.
- Cut a slit down the middle along each pepper and stuff with the cheese mixture. Bring the edges of the slits together and secure with 2-3 toothpicks. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and fry until lightly golden.
- Meanwhile, sprinkle the flour on a sheet of aluminum foil in an even layer. Roll each pepper in the flour until lightly coated and place in the skillet, over the fried onions.
- Mix the sour cream, cooking cream and bouillon powder in a bowl.
- Pour over the peppers, cover the pan and reduce to a low heat. Cook for 15 minutes, until the peppers are warm and the cheese filling has melted.
The Chile Relleno are best served with steamed white rice and hot tortillas.
In December 2020, while writing this column and prior to photo shoot, Shai, the family’s beloved dog, passed away. Mili and Ariel loved him very much and wished to dedicate this column to his memory
(Edited by Ofer Vardi, photography by Rubén Zmora Alvarado, wildlife photography)