One of the things that I’m most enthusiastic about in what I do, is breaking down myths about Mexican food and also about Mexicans. One of the biggest misconceptions is that Mexican food is greasy, fatty, cheesy and overloaded in heavy amounts of condiments. Some of the dishes that crossed the Mexican border and have become popular in the US, have been re-interpreted and promoted by the US fast food industry. Yet, mega burrito bombs, nachos smothered in cheese, and sizzling fajitas with scoops of sour cream on top are things you will have a really hard time finding in Mexico.
One thing that surprises people who delve a bit more into the Mexican culinary world is how crazy we are about salads. Not taco salads, no, no, no… Wholesome salads that use vegetables and beans and grains and flowers and all kinds of dried chiles and herbs…
It may be that the Mexican use of the word salad “ensalada” doesn’t help much to spread this good information because we usually call “ensalada” when there is lettuce or leafy greens in it. This leaves out chayote en vinagre, calabacitas en escacheche (pickled zucchini salad), nopalitos, and a gazillion other salads named simply by their main ingredient.
Continue reading Hearty Bean & Corn Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette
Hearty Bean & Corn Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette
LIME-RUBBED CHICKEN TACOS WITH CORN GUACAMOLE
Tacos de pollo con guacamole con elote
Serves 6 to 8
1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper, or to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
Corn Guacamole Ingredients:
2 large ripe Mexican avocados, halved, pitted and diced
1 jalapeño chile, roasted, chopped, or to taste
2 garlic cloves, roasted with the skin on, peeled and minced
3/4 cup corn kernels, shaved from corn, or cooked from thawed
3/4 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or chopped
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
To assemble Tacos:
10-12 corn tortillas, homemade or store-bought
To make the Chicken:
Mix the lime juice with the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper and rosemary in a bowl. Pour on top of the chicken, in a container. Cover and refrigerate anywhere from 1/2 hour up to 12 hours.
Heat a medium-sized sauté or grill pan over medium-high heat. Add corn or safflower oil; once it is hot but not smoking, add the chicken. Sauté until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the pan, place on chopping board to cool. When cool enough to handle, slice into diagonal strips about a 1/2-inch wide.
To make the Guacamole:
Place the jalapeño and garlic cloves in a small baking dish under the broiler, for 6 to 9 minutes, until completely cooked through, soft and skin is charred. Once cool enough to handle, peel garlic and mince along with chiles.
Place diced avocado in a mixing bowl. Add the charred and minced garlic and jalapeños, gently tossing everything together well. Incorporate the corn and tomatoes. Squeeze the lime juice on top and sprinkle the salt. Mix it all together.
To assemble Tacos:
In an already hot skillet or comal set over medium-low heat, heat the tortillas. It will take about 1 minute per side.
Place the tortillas in a tortilla warmer or wrap them in a clean kitchen towel or cloth napkin. Serve them together with the guacamole and the chicken at the table and assemble your tacos!
This episode explores three very different, very authentic and very simple twists on Mexican tacos, one of Mexico’s most iconic foods.
Travel with Pati to the state of Puebla to see why it isn’t just the site of the legendary Cinco de Mayo battle — it’s also home to some of Mexico’s most luscious, delectable culinary treats.
6 fresh ears of corn, husked and rinsed
Unsalted butter, to taste
Mayonnaise, to taste
1 cup crumbled queso cotija or queso fresco, or to taste
1 lime, or to taste
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
Dried ground chile like piquín or a mix like Tajín
To cook the corn, you can grill it or boil it. To grill, brush the ears of corn with a bit of oil. Place them over a grill or grill pan, set over medium heat, and let the corn cook and char slightly, turning every 3 minutes until all the corn is done, anywhere from 9 to 12 minutes total. Remove from the heat. You can also cook the corn it in boiling water until soft and cooked, less than ten minutes.
Once cooked, stick the corn on corn holders or a wooden stick. Choose your toppings! Traditionally in Mexico, we: spread butter, then a layer of mayonnaise, coat thoroughly with crumbled cheese, sprinkle with salt and ground chile and finally, drizzle with freshly-squeezed lime juice.
Fun, kid-friendly and (mostly!) finger-food that you’d find at a children’s party in Mexico, adapted for American parties at home. A special guest shows up to make dessert!
A tasty look at the way French cuisine has historically influenced modern Mexican cooking, and simple techniques any American cook can manage with impressive results.
BLISSFUL CORN TORTE
Torte de elote
1/2 pound unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
8 eggs, separated
4 cups corn kernels
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup rice flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher or coarse salt
Place rack in the middle of oven and heat to 360 degrees. Butter a 9×12-inch pan.
Beat the butter with the sugar until creamy. Slowly add 8 egg yolks, one by one, until incorporated. Add the cream, rice flour and baking powder.
In a blender, process the milk with the corn kernels, then, incorporate it into the mix above. Place the mixture in a big mixing bowl.
Separately, beat the egg whites with salt until stiff peaks are formed. Add 1/5 of the egg whites to the butter/corn mix and blend carefully. Slowly blend the rest of the egg whites until everything is mixed, it is ok if the mixture looks streaky, don’t over work it or it will lose volume. Pour onto baking dish.
Bake until torte is springy to the touch and lightly browned, 45 to 50 minutes. Once it cools a little, cut into squares. It can be served either warm or cold; it can be covered and kept at room temperature for an entire day, or covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Growing up in Mexico City, I didn’t know a single person who celebrated Cinco de Mayo, except for the people who lived in the state of Puebla. We didn’t even get the day off! Sure we studied it in school–the unprecedented victory of a small Mexican militia against the large French army in 1862–but it was a short-lived victory, as the French won right back.
Fast forward 150 years to 2012: the French and Spanish are gone; Mexicans proudly celebrate Independence Day every September 16; yet, for reasons few of us can explain, Cinco de Mayo has become the greatest, most joyous, colorful celebration–for Mexicans living abroad. As strange as the nostalgia is, the longer I live abroad, the stronger the impact Cinco de Mayo has within my soul. These words fluff up like soft conchas right out of the oven, getting fluffier, sweeter and more comforting as the years go by.
Continue reading Creamy Poblano Soup
The Mexican way to wildly dress simply cooked corn drives me wild:
Crunchy sweet corn on a stick, brushed with butter and mayo, coated in tangy and salty crumbled queso fresco, sprinkled with chile powder, typically chile piquín, coarse salt and a liberal squeeze of lime juice…
It doesn’t matter if I am hungry. The mere site of a street food corn stand makes me stop dead in my tracks and zoom over for one. Like a wild woman. I need one. Well, the truth is one is not enough, ever.
In Mexico you find corn stands all over, in little towns and big cities. Locals know what day of the week and at what times they show up. If you are not from there, it takes a while to figure it out.
Continue reading Go Wild, Munch On Your Crazy Corn!