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!
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 began to see the exotic side of the tomatillo once in the US.
Growing up in Mexico, they were a standard at every market, part of our weekly mandado, present in our family meals at least half a dozen times a week: in salsa verde to pour on top of almost everything, in enchiladas, chilaquiles, bathing fish, covering a shredded meat and potato stew, and sometimes cactus paddles.
Think something like salt … how odd it is to find a kitchen without salt?
Once we moved to Texas, the only place I could find them was in Latino stores. As the years moved on, there was no one I met without a Mexican connection who had ever cooked with a tomatillo or even dared to bring one home.
Sure, many people love salsa verde and eat it in restaurants or buy a jar at the store, but few know that its star ingredient, is the tomatillo.
Continue reading Tomatillo and Lime Jam
ANCHO CHILE MEXICAN HAMBURGERS WITH LIME AIOLI
Hamburguesas con Chile Ancho y Aioli de Limón
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 1/2 lbs ground veal
1 1/2 cup white onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves
4 ancho chiles, rinsed, stemmed, seeded
1 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground, or to taste
1 cup mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lime, about 2 tbsp
1 tsp grated lime rind
3 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
8 hamburger buns
2 red tomatoes, sliced
8 iceberg or romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried
1/2 cup white onion, sliced
Place chiles in a small bowl and cover with boiling hot water. Let it soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Places chiles in the blender along with 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid, onion and garlic, and puree until smooth.
In a mixing bowl, combine the ground beef and veal. Add the chile mixture, two lightly beaten eggs, salt and pepper. Mix until it is all well incorporated.
Heat the grill or pan over medium heat until very hot and brush some oil. With your hands, mold the patties and place them on the hot grill or pan. Cook for about 4 to 6 minutes per side, depending on how well cooked you like your burgers. I like them medium-well, so it is about 5 minutes per side for me.
Place the garnishes on the table so that everyone can choose to their liking.
To make the lime aioli, place everything in a mixing bowl, and just mix it all up!
If you want to make this hamburger into a cheeseburger, Monterey Jack is a great companion. Just place a slice of cheese on to the patties once you flipped them on the pan or grill and let it melt as it finishes cooking.
Agua de Jamaica
Makes 4 to 5 cups
1 cup jamaica concentrate (see below)
3 to 4 cups water
When ready to serve, dilute 1 cup concentrate with 3 to 4 cups water, or to your liking, and some ice cubes.
Makes about 5 cups
8 cups water
2 cups dried hibiscus or jamaica flowers, about 2-3 ounces, depending on how tightly you pack the 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 to 12 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 will keep in the refrigerator for at least 3 months.
TOMATILLO AND LIME JAM
Mermelada de Tomate Verde con Limon
Makes about 1 1/4 cups
1 lb tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
4 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
Rind of a lime, whole or chopped
A pinch of salt
Place all of the ingredients into a saucepan set over medium heat. Let them come to a simmer and stir occasionally, letting them cook until it has thickened and achieved a soft and loose jam consistency, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Don’t wait until it has thickened too much, because it thickens considerably as it cools. Once it has cooled down, pour it into a container, cover tightly and refrigerate.
Meet the tomatillo–this small, plump, green fruit was a favorite of the Aztecs and stars in any number of Mexican dishes today. Its tart flavor is worlds apart from the taste of tomatoes, but is just as juicy and unforgettable. This episode will show you where to find tomatillos, how to cook with them, and tips and tricks for creating amazing dishes.
AVOCADO AND COCONUT ICE CREAM
Helado de Aguacate y Coco
3 large ripe Mexican avocados, about 2 pounds, halved, pitted, pulp scooped out (about 3 cups)
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
3/4 cups sugar, more to taste
1/4 cup dried shredded coconut, lightly toasted, optional for garnish, or toasted almonds, pine nuts or pistachios
Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit and scoop the pulp out. Cut the pulp into chunks and place it in the blender or food processor. Add the coconut milk, sugar, and lime juice, and puree until smooth.
Process the avocado-coconut puree in you ice cream maker, or ice cream ball, according to the manufacturers instructions. Place in the freezer for a couple hours for firmer ice cream. If you don’t have an ice cream maker you can serve it as a cold mousse, or you can also freeze it and serve it as ice cream, but it will be a little less fluffy. But its still good!
Lightly toast the shredded coconut on a small saute pan set over medium-low heat, stirring constantly so it does not burn. It will take less than a minute. Once the coconut becomes fragrant and acquires a tan, remove and set aside. Sprinkle over the ice cream.
Every year, just as summer peeks its warm face in Washington DC, I begin to crave fresh fruits and vegetables Mexican street cart style. One of the times when I have enjoyed it the most was last April. We were traveling through the Copper Canyon route, on a week long trip, from Chihuahua to Sinaloa. We had been waiting at the station in the town of Creel to catch the Chepe train to go to the next town.
As the station officer let out a scream that the train was approaching, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the fruit and vegetable cart. It was hot, we were tired and thirsty, and I saw Mr. Fruit Cart Man peeling some ripe and juicy mangoes. I grew weak in my knees.
Continue reading Running to Catch the Fresh Fruit Cart!
Though there are many kinds of avocado soups, this is my favorite. I tried it at the Mexican Ambassador’s residence a couple months ago. As Doña Rosita, the cook, heard me mmm, and mmm, and mmmmmmm all over again, she came out of the kitchen with a pen and a piece of paper ready to dictate her recipe.
What a surprise for such a tasty soup: just a handful of ingredients! Seems that what matters, again, is how you use them.
Doña Rosita told me she has tweaked her recipe through time. Also, she sometimes tops it with tortilla crisps, and sometimes with fresh croutons. Depends on the mood. But she always serves it with crumbled Queso Fresco. There you go! Another thing you can do with that Mexican Fresh Cheese, aside from a Green Salad and Enfrijoladas.
It is easy, tasty and sounds oh… so… fancy. Plus, it is wholesome. The only thing I added to Doña Rosita’s recipe, is some fresh lime juice. I couldn’t help it. So check it out, this is how it goes:
Continue reading Avocado Soup with Queso Fresco