Recipes From The Heart 2021, No. 1

Ready for a little spice to combat January doldrums? Inspired by Jim O’Kon’s knowledge of Maya culture, chilis, hominy and vanilla bean seem quite appropriate.

Jim O’Kon is the master of Maya culture.

Hominy, Tomato and Chili Soup

A soup made to brighten January meals.


1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped white onion
1 large fresh Anaheim chili, stemmed, seeded, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 dried New Mexico chili, stemmed, seeded, torn into small pieces
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 14- to 15-ounce can golden hominy, drained
1 14-to 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1/3 cup finely crushed tostadas caseras or corn chips
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice


Toast cumin seeds in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until beginning to darken in color, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Enclose in plastic bag and crush with hammer or mallet.

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, Anaheim chili, and garlic. Sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add New Mexico chili, oregano, and cumin seeds. Stir 2 minutes longer. Add broth, hominy, tomatoes with juices, and tostadas caseras. Bring soup to boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until dried chili is very soft and flavors blend, about 45 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper, then lime juice to taste. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm soup before serving. Ladle soup into bowls.

Salmon with Chiles & Hominy

Hominy blends beautifully with chilis and good salmon.


3 chipotle chiles (about) from canned chipotle chiles in adobo
2 tablespoons apricot jam or preserves
1 1/4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 6- to 7-ounce salmon fillets with skin (scant 1 inch thick)
1 15-ounce can hominy, drained, juice reserved
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro


Preheat oven to 450°F. Using back of spoon, press enough chipotles through fine sieve into small bowl to measure 2 teaspoons puree. Mix puree, jam, vinegar, and cumin in bowl; season glaze to taste with salt.

Coat small rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Arrange salmon on sheet; sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Spread half of glaze over each fillet. Roast until just opaque in center, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree hominy and 3 tablespoons reserved juice in mini processor until almost smooth. Transfer to small skillet. Add butter and cilantro. Stir over medium heat until warmed through, mixing in more reserved juice by teaspoonfuls if too thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide hominy between 2 plates, top with salmon, and serve.

Kentucky Bourbon Vanilla Bean Pudding

Vanilla is a gift from the Maya.

1 and 2/3 cups whole milk divided
1 cup half and half or light cream
1 vanilla bean
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 tbsp Kentucky Bourbon
1 tsp real vanilla extract


Put 1 cup of the milk and the half and half in a saucepan. Run the tip of a sharp knife along the length of the vanilla bean, split it open and use the side of the knife to scrape the seeds into the pan. Add the bean along too. Heat just until it comes to a simmer over medium heat.

While that is heating, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl.

Whisk in the remaining 2/3 cup whole milk, and then the eggs. Once the milk has just come to a simmer, very gradually drizzle it into the cornstarch mixture in the bowl, whisking the whole time.

Return the mixture back into the saucepan, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or whisk.

Once it comes to a simmer, cook it for one minute longer, stirring constantly. Stir in the vanilla extract and bourbon and divide the pudding among 5 or 6 dishes.

Stay Safe. Eat Well. Love One Another.

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