A taco is a beautiful thing.
One of the most satisfying, versatile, exciting, and downright honest foods I can think of.
Plus, there is no need or mood a taco can’t tackle.
You are hungry and have but one peso in your pocket? Eat a Taco de Nada. You pass a tortillería on your way home? A Taco de Sal will hold you off until you get there. A deep hangover ails you? Go for Tacos de Barbacoa with Salsa Borracha. Did you say you have a broken heart? A pair of fully stocked Tacos al Pastor will be your most effective rebound. You are home with a cold? Soft chicken tacos dipped in fresh crema will make you all better, no doubt about that. Need to feed your teen kid and his buddies before they head out? Crispy Potato and Chorizo Tacos dressed with shredded lettuce, crumbled queso fresco and Salsa Verde will make them happy and fill them up. It’s lunchtime and you are on the road? If you are in Mexico (or somewhere with a large Mexican community), you will find someone with a huge basket selling Tacos Sudados to go. Planning a backyard party? Tacos de Carnitas will kick it off, without you even saying a word.
Continue reading Bricklayer Tacos
GREEN CHILAQUILES IN A ROASTED TOMATILLO SAUCE
18-5″ corn tortillas
2 pounds green tomatillos, husked and rinsed
Half of a large white onion
1 or 2 serrano or jalapeño chiles
1 garlic clove
2 or 3 cilantro sprigs
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for brushing tortillas
1/2 cup onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup queso fresco or cotija, or substitute with Farmer’s cheese or mild feta, crumbled
1/4 cup Mexican cream
To Prepare the Tortillas:
Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Cut the tortillas into 2-inch, bite-sized pieces, lightly brush with oil, sprinkle salt. Set them on a baking tray and bake in the oven until crispy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let the pieces cool. Alternately, you can fry the tortilla pieces.
To Prepare the Tomatillo Sauce:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the tomatillos, onions, garlic and serrano chiles in a bowl. Add about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and rub all the ingredients until everything has a light coat of oil. Lay the ingredients in a baking tray. Sprinkle with salt.
Bake until tomatillos are soft and plump and all the ingredients look charred.
Let the ingredients cool. Add the charred vegetables, the cilantro and the broth to a blender and mix well.
Heat a pan over medium heat, adding one additional tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add the sauce from the blender and finish cooking over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Season to taste.
When the sauce is hot, quickly but carefully add the tortillas. Stir the tortillas into the mixture so that they are fully coated with the sauce.
Serve the tortillas and salsa in a large platter, garnished with the sliced onions, crumbled Mexican queso fresco, drizzle with the cream, garnish with chopped onion and cilantro. Eat immediately.
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
Continue reading Mushroom-Jalapeño Matzo Ball Soup
This year I promised my boys we would plant goodies in the backyard to harvest ourselves. At the nursery, jumping up and down as in a candy shop, they dragged so many plants to the counter, I had to give an absolute NO to half of them.
We ended up with thyme, oregano, bay leaves, rosemary, mint, parsley, and cilantro. Ok, and tomatoes, cherry and roma. Fine… corn too, don’t know what I was thinking. And wait! We couldn’t leave without jalapeños, which led me to run for some tomatillos. And scallions. I stopped there. I did.
Then Sami came back with a little watermelon plant. That was the wildest idea, oh, that monster of mine. We’ve no room to grow watermelon. I told him about the big wide fields in Northern Mexico, in states like Sonora, Chihuahua, Jalisco and Sinaloa where watermelon is grown extensively. Our backyard is… not so big.
We brought home Sami’s watermelon plant.
Continue reading Summertime Watermelon & Tomatillo Salad: Beat the Heat!
Summertime Watermelon & Tomatillo Salad: Beat the Heat!
WARM SWEET POTATO SALAD WITH CHORIZO
Ensalada Calientita de Camote y Chorizo
Makes 4 to 6 servings
3 lbs sweet potatoes (about 3 large sweet potatoes), peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed
1/2 tsp brown sugar
3/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 oz fresh, uncooked Mexican chorizo, casings removed and coarsely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed and seeded if less heat is desired
1/3 cup red onion, chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the sweet potato pieces, once it comes back to a boil, reduce the heat to medium; simmer for about 10 minutes, until almost tender and a knife can go through without breaking a piece. Drain, and transfer to a baking dish large enough to hold the pieces almost in a single layer.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Whisk together orange juice, oil, sugar, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Pour the mixture over the sweet potatoes and toss to coat evenly. Roast for about 20 minutes, turning them after about 10 minutes, until the potato pieces have started to brown and the sauce has thickened. Remove from the oven.
Meanwhile, cook the chorizo in a medium skillet over medium-high heat; use a wooden spoon of spatula to break it into smaller pieces as it cooks. After 5 to 6 minutes, when it has nicely browned and crisped, use a slotted spoon to top the hot sweet potatoes.
Sprinkle the jalapeño, red onion and cilantro on top, and toss gently to combine. Serve warm.
STEAK TACOS WITH JAMAICA AND JALAPEÑO SYRUP
Tacos de Carne con Jarabe de Jamaica y Jalapeño
Makes 8 generous servings
1 lb flank steak
2 cups jamaica/hibiscus flower concentrate (see below)
2 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
A pinch black pepper, freshly ground
3/4 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
Safflower or corn oil
Salt to taste
1 serrano or jalapeño chile, halved and seeded
1 ripe Mexican avocado, halved, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled
16 corn tortillas
Pour the jamaica concentrate, bay leaves, whole cloves, black pepper and salt into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until it reduces to half the original amount.
Let the marinade cool and pour over the flank steak in a baking dish or container. Cover and let it marinade anywhere from 1 to 24 hours.
Set grill pan, grill or saute pan over medium-high heat. Brush with a light coat of oil. Sprinkle meat with a bit more salt. Grill meat anywhere from 4 to 6 minutes per side, depending on how cooked you want it.
Meanwhile, pour the marinade into a saucepan set over medium heat and drop in the halved serrano or jalapeño chile. Let the sauce reduce for 15 minutes, or until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. The syrup will thicken considerably as it cools. Remove from heat and let cool.
When the meat is ready, slice it thin and if you want, cut it into chunks. Heat corn tortillas over a comal or skillet over medium heat, it will take about a minute per side. For each taco, add a couple tablespoons or slices of meat in the center of each tortillas, a slice of avocado, some crumbled queso fresco and drizzle some of the jamaica and syrup on top. Enjoy your tacos!
Makes about 5 cups
8 cups water
6 oz dried hibiscus flowers, about 2 cups
1 1/2 cups sugar, or to taste
2 tbsp fresh lime juice, or to taste
In a saucepan, pour 8 cups of water and place over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, add the jamaica flowers, simmer at medium heat for 10 minutes and turn off the heat. Let it cool down and strain into a heat proof glass or plastic water jar. Add the sugar and lime juice, mix well, cover and refrigerate.
It takes three ingredients, plus any extra topping that you fancy, 8 minutes in the toaster or oven and you get one of the most comforting foods I have eaten since I can remember: Molletes.
One of the most popular Mexican anytime antojitos or cravings, that can be eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch, a hearty afternoon snack or dinner. It used to be a standard option for breakfast or dinner at my house growing up in Mexico City, just as quesadillas were. But I also used to crave Molletes from my school cafeteria.
So yes, even if I had some at home in the morning, I would have more for lunch at school…
Continue reading Molletes with Pico: No Way not to Fall in Love
There are countless versions of Pico de Gallo salsas. Their trademark is having ingredients that are fresh rather than cooked, and diced and chopped rather than pureed. This is the most common and well-known version.
It is also incredibly colorful!
Continue reading Pico de Gallo Salsa
Guacamole en Trozos
2 ripe Mexican avocados, halved, pitted and pulp cut into chunks or roughly mashed
3 tbsp white onion, finely chopped
1 chile serrano or jalapeño, or to taste, minced (seeding is optional)
2 tbsp cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
3 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tsp salt, more or less to taste
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and serve!