“The crew had repeatedly approached the stern-faced owner of La Pasita to try to secure permission to film an episode for season two of Pati’s Mexican Table. But Emilio Contreras Ovando was standing his ground: No way. No one takes photos or films inside’s Puebla’s oldest cantina, named after its housemade, high alcohol, raisin liquor served with a cube of aged cheese.
But Pati Jinich wouldn’t let it go. She and her crew, after all, had invested time and money in …”
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What a ride it has been…
From writing the pitch, to finding the extraordinary editor Rux Martin, to recipe re-testing, writing, working with the fabulous team at Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt and having my food photographed by the amazing Penny de los Santos. After what seems to have been an eternity of working so hard and waiting: the book pre-order is up.
I felt goosebumps after I saw it right there, ready to share. Click below: You can see it too!
Last post was about that Cucumber Martini I could drink an entire pitcher of. It feels like a century has passed, and I have so, so, so many stories and recipes to share with you. But only now, after a wildly crazy hectic summer desperately missing this blog, am I able to sit down and write. And guess what? I have no choice but to continue with cucumbers!
This is why: I thought I knew cucumbers, I really did, until I visited Mr. Jose Luis Rodríguez Rojas’ cucumber green house in the state of Morelos, a state known as “Mexico’s Spring”. Cucumbers grown there are the slicers, ironically called pepino Americano or pepino común in Mexico. Slicers are the cucumbers mostly used in Mexico’s kitchens. And the ones I use all the time.
Now I know how little I knew about them.
Continue reading Cucumber Soup with Mint, Jalapeño and Pomegranate
MEXICAN WEDDING COOKIES
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (or double the butter)
1/2 cup pecans, ground or finely chopped
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a large cookie sheet.
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, pulse the pecans until they are finely chopped. Add the powdered sugar, flour and salt, and pulse again. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula if necessary.
Drop in the butter and shortening chunks, and pulse a couple of times. Add the egg and pulse again, just until the mixture starts to come together. Roll the dough into 1- to 1 1/2″ balls with your hands.
Place the balls on the baking sheet, spacing them 1″ apart; give them a light pat on the top. Bake until the cookies are golden brown, about 15 minutes. You may need to bake two batches.
Generously, really super generously, dust extra confectioners’ sugar over the top of the cookies.
TAMPICO-STYLE STEAK COMBO
For the steak:
6 6 oz beef tenderloin slices, 2″ to 3″ thick
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
For the poblano strips or rajas:
6 poblano chiles
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup white onion, thinly-sliced
Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 thick slice white cheese, panela, asadero or blanco
1 ripe avocado, halved, scopped and sliced
To cut and prepare the meat:
On a large cutting board, hold one piece of beef upright and, with a sharp knife, make a vertical cut into the meat about 1/4″ deep.Continue slicing around the circumference of the piece, unrolling a thin layer of beef as you go, stopping to turn it when you need to, until you get a long strip 1/4″ thick and about 2″ wide. Continue with the rest of the pieces.
Season the meat on both sides with the lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper.
When the meat is ready, lightly coat a griddle or large 12″ skillet over medium-high heat; once it is very hot, cook the meat for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side, depending on your desired done-ness level.
To prepare the poblano strips or rajas:
Place the poblano chiles on a tray under the broiler, directly on a grill or directly on an open flame. I prefer to broil them, it’s faster and easier. Whatever method you choose, turn them every 2 to 3 minutes for a total of 6 to 9 minutes. They’ll seem charred and blistered on the outside; the flesh must be cooked but not burnt — like roasting marshmallows over a fire.
Once charred and hot, place them in a plastic bag, close it tightly and let them sweat for 10 to 20 minutes. Then, and preferably under a thin stream of cold water, remove the charred skin, make a slit down one side of the pepper and remove the cluster of seeds and veins. Cut the stem off and make slices that are about a 1/2″ inch wide.
Heat the oil and butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Add the rajas (the poblano pepper strips) and cook for a few more minutes. Add the vinegar, cook another minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To prepare the grilled cheese:
Heat a griddle, grill pan or nonstick or seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat until hot. Place the cheese slice on the grill pan and cook until lightly browned. Cut the cheese into 6 slices.
Prepare each plate with one piece of steak, some poblano pepper strips, two enchiladas and a slice of the grilled cheese. The meal is traditionally served with a side of tortillas, refried beans sprinkled with cheese, a slice of avocado and the salsa of your choice.
ENCHILADAS IN RED TOMATO SAUCE
Enchiladas en Salsa Roja
For the sauce:
1 poundripe tomatoes
1 garlic clove, skin on
1 1/4″-thick slicewhite onion (about 1 ounce)
1 jalapeño or serrano chile, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
For the enchiladas:
Oil for frying the tortillas, optional
12 corn tortillas
1/2 cup Mexican cream
1/2 cup queso fresco or cotija, crumbled
1/3 cup white onion,chopped
Ripe avocado, halved, scooped and sliced
Place the tomatoes, garlic, onions, and chile on a medium baking dish, roasting pan or ovenproof skillet. Place them under a hot broiler and char the ingredients for about 9 to 10 minutes, turning them halfway through as the pieces brown thoroughly. The tomatoes’ skin should be charred, wrinkled, and the juices begin to run. The chile and onions should be softened and nicely charred; the papery husk of the garlic should be burned and the clove softened inside.
Remove the skin from the garlic clove and discard. Place the garlic in the blender along with the tomatoes, onion, and chile (start with half chile first, adding the other half or more if you feel you want more heat later), and the salt. Purée until smooth, set aside.
In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, add enough oil to reach 1/2-inch deep; let it heat for about 3 minutes. Gently glide each tortilla through the oil, one by one, for about 15 seconds on each side, so that they soften and become resilient. You should be able to fold them without breaking them. Transfer the tortillas to a paper towel-covered plate. Alternately, you can lightly toast them on an already hot comal or skillet set over medium heat, for about 20 seconds per side.
Glide the tortillas through the salsa. Fold and then cover, generously, with more of the red sauce. Sprinkle with the crumbled cheese, the cream, and the chopped onion.
“It’s back to school time, which of course means back to packing lunch. Here we go again. Every parent is pressed for time. Kids aren’t always open to new foods. No one wants to waste time, or money, on food that won’t get eaten.
Understandably, we fall back on the familiar favorites. Peanut butter and jelly, anyone? Parents know the challenge all to well. Everywhere around the world, kids eat. Why not take a cue from other countries’ cuisines, and fill the lunchbox with new and delicious international flavors?…”
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