Sopa de Tortilla
3 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 pound ripe tomatoes
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup roughly chopped white onion
1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 cups chicken broth
1 sprig fresh parsley
12 corn tortillas, cut into 1- to 2-inch strips
1 ancho or pasilla chile, stemmed, seeded, cut into 1-inch strips and quickly fried (optional, for garnish)
Vegetable oil, for frying
8 ounces queso fresco, diced
1/2 cup Mexican-style cream, crème fraiche or sour cream
1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, meat scooped out and diced
Set a comal or skillet over medium heat. Once it is hot, toast the guajillo chiles for about a minute per side.
In a medium saucepan, place the toasted guajillos, tomatoes, and garlic clove and cover with water. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer anywhere from 12 to 15 minutes, until tomatoes are fully cooked and mushy, and the guajillos have rehydrated and plumped up.
Place the guajillos, tomatoes, garlic and onion in a blender, along with 1 cup of the simmering liquid and salt. Puree until completely smooth.
In a large soup pot, heat the 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, but not smoking, pour in the tomato puree. It will sizzle, make noise and smoke. Partially cover with a lid, if you need to. Let the puree cook, season and thicken, changing from a bright red to a darker red and thicker consistency, for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the chicken broth, add the parsley sprig and once it comes to a simmer, continue simmering for another 10 minutes. Before serving, remove the parsley sprig.
To prepare the garnishes: Fry or bake the tortilla strips. Flash fry the ancho or pasilla chile strips, literally 5 seconds in already hot oil in a skillet set over medium heat, drain in a paper towel.
Serve in soup bowls. Add a handful of tortilla crisps, and let people decide how much cream, queso fresco, chile crisps and avocado to add to their bowls. Or, if you don’t want to give anyone a choice, place all the garnishes in the soup plates, and pour the hot soup into the bowls at the table.
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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.
Tortilleros tend to be stunning in their craftsmanship, design and color. They are usually handmade and can have from the most simple to the most intricate designs. Mexican cooks take great pride in arranging their table to make it colorful and beautiful, and the tortillero is no exception.
Continue reading Tortillero
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 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.
Burritas de Chilorio
3 pounds boneless pork (butt, shoulder or loin with some fat on!) cut into 2″ chunks, or substitute for chicken
1 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
5 dried ancho chiles (about 55 grams), tops and seeds removed
1 1/2 cup of the chile soaking liquid (see below)
1/2 cup white onion, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
2/3 cup cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or more to taste
Flour tortillas, warmed, optional
Place rinsed meat chunks in an extended heavy pot. Barely cover with the orange juice and water, add a teaspoon of salt and set over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, bring the heat down to medium and let is simmer for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until most of the liquid has cooked off and the meat is thoroughly cooked, and has rendered most of its fat.
Meanwhile, remove the stems from the chiles, make a slit down their sides and remove their seeds and veins. Place them in a bowl, cover them with boiling hot water, and let them sit and rehydrate for about 15 minutes. Place the chiles and 1 1/2 cups of their soaking liquid in the blender along with the onion, garlic, parsley, oregano, cumin, black pepper, vinegar, and puree until smooth.
Once the meat is ready, place it in a bowl along with any remaining cooking broth. Once it is cool enough to handle, shred it with your hands or using two forks.
In the same pot, heat oil over medium heat. Pour in the chile sause and let it season and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes. Toss in the shredded meat along with any of its remaining cooking broth. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt and let it cook, stirring often, until the meat has absorbed most of the chile sauce, which will have thickened, seasoned and changed color to a much darker tone. It will take about 20 minutes. Taste for salt and add more if need be.
Serve with warmed flour tortillas on the side. If you wish, spoon chilorio on tortillas and roll them into burritas or burras. They are wonderful with refried beans and avocado or guacamole on the side as well.
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?
Memories from growing up in Mexico City revolve around one celebration or another and mostly center on the foods that just had to be there. If there was no holiday, anniversary, birthday or special occasion for a formal celebration, then we celebrated the food itself. Just say the magic words and a get together would spring right up.
Nana made tamales? Fiesta!
Mami made mole? Well, what are you waiting for?
Papi brought real quesadillas potosinas? It is Sunday brunch everyone…
However, as much as I can remember, we didn’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo. As kids we reviewed it in passing at school, unless you lived in the state of Puebla. The place, where on a Cinco de Mayo in 1862, a small Mexican militia won an unexpected victory against the large French army. It was a short-lived victory, as the French won right back.
But fast-forward almost a couple centuries later: the French and Spaniards are gone, Mexicans proudly celebrate Independence Day every September 16th, and for a reason no Mexican can explain, Cinco de Mayo has become the most celebrated, joyous and colorful holiday for Mexicans living abroad. It even surpasses the noise we make for Independence Day.
Continue reading Chilorio for Cinco de Mayo!
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
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!