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June 19, 2009

I am not one to carry a bottle of hot sauce in my bag wherever I go. I do have an uncle that proudly does. Wherever he travels, his Tabasco sauce eagerly jumps out of his bag and splashes its somewhat flavorless heat on whatever food it happens to come across. Yep, fancy restaurants too.

Now I know… Mexicans have the reputation of loving to eat everything with chiles. I admit this to be true. As Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, Spanish priest, defender of indigenous people, and chronicler of early colonial times said in the XVI century: Without chiles, Mexicans do not consider they have eaten. Hmmmm… the same can be said today. With the caveat, that it’s not just the heat that we crave.

Most Mexicans are picky chile eaters. Since we have so many varieties, and such varied and distinct ways to use and prepare them, we can exquisitely discriminate how and what we pair them with. We love their different flavors, textures, fragrances and personalities. It is like considering different kinds of fruits. So my uncle is more an exception than the rule.

All this to say, without any excuse, that although I am not a hot sauce bottle kind of woman, I am a pickled Jalapeño kind of gal.

Continue reading Pickled Jalapeño Kind of Gal


June 11, 2009

Some people get motion sickness when they travel. Some people get hungry. I am among the latter.

The minute I step on whatever will transport me from one place to another, my mind swims through related food memories… and I just have to eat. So since I know I will have a craving for something other than a moist, soggy, chewy and never-ever crunchy baguette from the Amtrak train, and after being so spoiled with the food from El Chepe Train, I am packing my own Torta.

Torta (according to me…): A satisfying and delicious, self contained, easy to transport, edible package filled with tasty ingredients that just love to schmooze together.

Continue reading I am packing my own Torta…


June 3, 2009

I wish each day had ten more hours so I could tell you about so many dishes already.

This is how behind I feel in all I want to share: Six weeks ago our family came back from the Copper Canyon in Mexico. I took notes, pictures, short videos, interviewed cooks, planted myself in their kitchens until forcefully uprooted by my husband, and ate like a mad woman from any interesting sounding dish, which was practically everything (partly with the purpose to come and tell you all about it…).

Then we came home, and life got in the way… I took longer to launch this site because I wanted to add more sections. By the time it was ready, so many weeks had gone by, I was eager to share more recent food excursions from my kitchen.

Yesterday, these red tomatoes reminded me of my delayed purpose. They looked perfectly ripe to become the base for that Mexican Style Rice we ate at the Chepe train (formally known as the Chihuahua al Pací­fico). It was unbelievable. Not only how good it tasted, but where and how it is made, every day.

Continue reading Unforgettable Rice from El Chepe


May 26, 2009

I have come to realize a couple things regarding a group get together around here…

For one thing pot lucks are so popular. Maybe it’s because they can make entertaining easier and promote a warm feeling of collaboration. I don’t remember many pot luck meals growing up in Mexico. It was generally assumed that the host was in charge of the whole meal and guests arrived with a box of chocolates, a bunch of flowers, or maybe a bottle of wine or tequila too. So that pot luck pitching in element, has been such a nice surprise.

Secondly, no potluck seems to be complete without a salad, which seems to represent the wholeness of a meal and that higher degree of healthfulness.  They aren’t always that fat-free. But in any case, they help reduce the guilt we all may feel after indulging in a couple of servings of whatever decadent dish may happen to be there too.

Continue reading A salad to dress and impress


May 19, 2009
the-best-tostada

I am so surprised tostadas haven’t become wildly popular in the US. Here are some reasons for my surprise…

They can be assembled in a couple minutes, as ingredients can be prepared beforehand or store-bought. They can be eaten anytime of day, depending on what you layer on them. They are a wholesome one stop meal, for proteins, vegetables and carbohydrates happily mingle in there. They are accommodating, you can decide how much to add of each topping. They are forgiving, choices can vary from one tostada to the next. Moreover, they are fun to prepare, eat and share.

In a sense, they are the perfect dish for casual entertaining. So much of Mexican food just lends itself to being in a Fiesta mood.

Continue reading Tostada Buzz: To infinity, and beyond!


May 12, 2009

“Bandido!” My late grandfather would scream, with his wide smile and the most endearing eyes, to my youngest son, if he were here to see how Julian messes up the kitchen.

As soon as a thought of cooking appears in my head, he drags a chair, climbs on top, asks  what are WE going to make, and without waiting for an answer announces that it is “yo, yo, YO…,” who will cook and experiment. I shall be of assistance.

Needless to say, it takes much longer than needed and the kitchen looks messier than my husband likes to see it. But if you ask me, it is worth every extra second and extra spoonful of crumbs on the floor.

Well then, what cake to make for his birthday? Of course chocolate! His brothers tell me with a tone of disbelief. However, I know it has to be spongy, fluffy, gooey, sticky, moist, extra messy, sweet and truly decadent to be worthy of the three candles in its middle.

Continue reading Juju’s Chocolate Birthday Cake


April 29, 2009
corn-in-a-bowl-or-on-a-stick

In Mexican cooking, corn is eaten and drank, in just about every possible way… Esquites, freshly shaved corn usually cooked in a buttery broth with epazote leaves and Serrano chile, is one of the most popular takes. So much so, that my boys counted eight Esquite street carts in the small down town square of Chihuahua, when we were there last month.

It is very common to walk through the streets in a Mexican city or village, no matter how tiny it may be, and find a wide array of street food stands boasting the dishes that Mexicans abroad hanker for the most: Antojitos, or little cravings. Each one being a Universe compounded with layers of flavors, in its own right.

Continue reading Corn: In a bowl or on a stick


April 27, 2009

While most of us in DC have stacked our winter clothes up in the attic or inside a trunk, the truth is, it’s still a bit chilly. So today I made this mushroom soup, yet again. I should be tired of it already, since I just cooked 100 portions of it for last Friday’s cooking class at the Institute and I had tested it for weeks… But here I go.. It is just too good!

It is not your typical soup at all. It has the woody and earthy feel of the mushrooms, but their flavor is somehow enhanced by the chile de árbol. It may sound strange, since one would think that chiles mask the flavor of ingredients. But depending on how you use them, they can pronounce rather than overpower other flavors.

Continue reading A comfy soup for the still chilly nights


April 17, 2009

My friend Vered walked into my house carrying a pound of French feta cheese and some freshly baked pitas she found at a Middle Eastern store. It was the kind she used to cook with in her Israeli home. Just a taste made us realize how hungry we were, though we were not near any mealtime. Nonetheless, we had 20 minutes before we had to run, so that’s a great excuse for a snack.

The last beautifully ripe avocado I had in the basket was staring at me. So I offered to make a Mexican Farolada out of her pita, of course to top with some fresh Guacamole.

The Farolada, named after the Farolito chain of taco restaurants, consists of pita bread stuffed with Mexican Manchego cheese (similar to Monterey Jack), thrown on the grill until the cheese oozes out. If let to sit there per your request, it will become crispy too.

Continue reading The double life of an avocado


April 16, 2009

This is a versatile basic green tomatillo salsa. It can be drizzled on top of Mexican Antojos, such as Tostadas, Tacos, Quesadillas and Sopes… It can also be used to make Green Enchiladas or Chilaquiles. It can be spooned on top of eggs in the morning, used as a side garnish to grilled meats and as the seasoning to bake some fresh flaky fish in the oven. I could go on and on though…. here it goes:

Continue reading Cooked Salsa Verde


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