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!
I had such a lovely tome visiting the Today Show, their food prep team is beyond amazing and the cast is so friendly and oh so much fun.
Here is a clip of the cooking segment, where we made three totally different recipes with corn: the wild and fun Crazy Corn, a chunky, hearty and fresh Chop Chop Salad, and a comforting Corn Torte that you can top with Poblano Rajas.
Click here, to get the full recipes
Whenever it starts pouring down in late Spring, I hanker for Huitlacoche.
A true Mexican delicacy, also called cuitlacoche, it is a form of fungus similar to some mushrooms, that grows on fresh corn. In the rainy Mexican season, that starts in April (some say March…) and ends sometime in September (some say October…) it’s when you can huitlacoche at its peak.
It doesn’t look that pretty. It grows in an oversize and disproportionate manner on the ears of corn, producing huge kernels that are black inside and covered with a somewhat silvery-white, sparkly and velvet textured skin.
Its flavor is intense and unmatchable: mushroomy, earthy, woody, a bit inky… reminds me of calamari ink.
Continue reading Huitlacoche
WHITE RICE AND POBLANO RAJAS CASSEROLE
Cazuela de Arroz con Rajas de Chile Poblano
4 cups cooked white rice
2 tbsp butter and a bit more to butter the baking dish
1 cup white onion, slivered
3 poblano chiles, about 3/4 lb, charred, skinned, stemmed, seeded, and sliced. Click here for more information on how to prepare them
1 1/2 cup Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cup corn kernels, fresh, thawed from frozen or canned and drained
1 tsp kosher salt or to taste
1/2 cup Mexican style cream, or Latin, Salvadorean, creme fraiche or heavy cream
1/2 cup queso fresco, can substitute with farmers, basket or ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cup Monterey jack, light cheddar or mozzarella, shredded
Place the butter in a saute pan set over medium heat. Once it melts, add the slivered onion and allow it to sweat for about 12 minutes, until translucent and soft. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the tomatoes and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in the chile poblano rajas or strips, corn, salt and black pepper and cook for about 3 more minutes. Add the cream and queso fresco and continue cooking, stirring from time to time, until the sauce thickens a bit and seasons, for 2 to 3 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 8 x 11 or 9 x 9 baking dish. Layer the white rice in the baking dish and press it down gently with a spatula. Pour the poblano mixture on top. For the last layer, sprinkle the shredded cheese on top.
Bake the casserole in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the cheese has completely melted. Serve hot.
AVOCADO & HEARTS OF PALM CHOP CHOP SALAD
Ensalada de Aguacate y Palmitos
Serves 4 to 6
3 ripe Hass avocados, or about 2 pounds, pulp cut into large chunks
14 oz hearts of palm, or about 1 1/3 cups, drained, rinsed and thickly sliced
1 cup corn kernels, from 2 large freshly cooked ears of corn or thawed and cooked from frozen
1 tbsp red onion, chopped
6 oz cherry tomatoes, or about 1 cup, whole or halved according to your preference
Vinaigrette dressing (see below)
3 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp safflower oil
To make the vinaigrette, pour the vinegar and lime juice in a small bowl. Add the oregano, salt, sugar, and black pepper. Pour the oil in a slow stream, whisking with a whisk or fork to emulsify. The vinaigrette can be made a day ahead of time and refrigerated, just emulsify before using.
To toast the pumpkin seeds, place them in an already hot, small saute pan set over medium heat. Stir often, being careful that they don’t burn; until you start to hear popping sounds (similar to popcorn) and they being to acquire a nice tan, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl.
In a bowl, gently mix the avocado chunks, hearts of palm, corn kernels, cherry tomatoes and red onion with the vinaigrette. Sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds and serve.
The dish can be served as a main salad with a side of toast or pita bread. Or serve it as a side salad to grilled chicken, fish or meat.
Quesadillas–the perfect marriage of heaven and earth, where the basic, simple tortilla meets the ecstasy of cheese. If you can find the right cheese, that is… So, where do you find great Mexican cheeses in the US? If you can’t find Oaxaca Cheese or Manchego, what can you use instead? What about Monterey Jack or Cheddar as a substitute?
In this episode I interview the fabulous Joe Yonan (who just came out with an equally fabulous cookbook!), who gives us a lot of cheesy advise.
Would it shock you to know that you don’t technically need to stuff cheese inside for it to qualify as an authentic Mexican quesadilla?
Right after savagely taking a bite into a fresh ear of corn, right in front of the cashier at the Farmers Market, I felt compelled to explain that its raw, sweet, flavor reminds me of the Corn and Cream ice cream from the Chiandoni heladería in Mexico City. A staple from my childhood days.
With a bit of nostalgia washing over me and in the mood of snapping that last piece of summer from this year, I brought back a full basket of corn. I would make one last batch of summer flavored ice cream, just as the stores begin to sell Halloween decorations, shockingly early, if you ask me.
Continue reading Outrageous But Necessary: Corn and Cream Ice Cream
Outrageous But Necessary: Corn and Cream Ice Cream
If you are into the habit, like me, of making your own home made corn tortillas, a tortilla press comes in really handy.
It’s true that tortillas can be made in many different ways such as simply flattening round corn masa or dough balls with your hands or rolling out the masa with a rolling pin. However, the tortilla press makes the process be a speedy, consistent, fun and even therapeutic one (it is!).
Moreover, look at what a pretty tool it is.
Continue reading Tortilla Press
20 JUNE 2009
11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Drop off your kids ages 6 to 12 for a corn workshop. Kids will learn about the history, legends, properties and uses of corn, make their own puppets out of corn husks and make their own corn masa. They will then assemble and eat dishes made with the corn masa, such as tostadas and quesadillas.