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Ceviche Verde

Ceviche-Verde_Summer-Recipe_Yes,-more-please!

To hot to cook fish? Let the Limes do it. This Ceviche Verde, is refreshing, light, green, tangy, zesty, crisp and crunchy vegetables, tender tuna marinated in lime juice, surrounded by creamy avocados… are you with me?…Yes!

Ceviche is an original dish from Peru. Peruvians are the kings of making the best out of fresh fish. To corroborate this statement you need to know about Peruvian Chef Gastón Acurio.  Chef Gastón has placed Peru, their culture, and Ceviche at another level in his country and internationally, all through a labor of love that started in the kitchen, that for me, no other chef has achieved with his cooking.

Recently I watched the movie “Finding Gaston”  I was extremely moved by his culinary life, the way he changed his course of action as a chef, his way of living, and how he decided to remain humble and rooted by his Peruvian culinary traditions in the kitchen. Through his cooking, Chef Gaston transformed the way he chose to embrace his culinary endeavors. He created a forceful network that helped his country economy. By honoring the relationships with the people in the fields, the farmers, the fisherman, the artisans and eliminating the middle man, he deals and exchange products directly with the working people. In doing so, he not only trade products, but experiences ways of life, and he gives back the respect and full understanding of all the efforts that are involved in their pursuit of craftsmanship. All this labor and these relationships, bonds and enrich his cooking authentically. At the same time this exchange awakens in people a sense of pride and honor in their traditions.

I strongly believe cooking and culture go hand in hand. If you strengthen your cooking traditions, you can pull people together; friends, families, neighborhoods, towns,  countries, all can start in the kitchen. That’s why is so important for us Yes, more please! bloggers ~Ian the photographer and Mariana the cook~, to illustrate our recipes with step by step photos, to empower and give you the confidence that you can cook!…I love it when people start caring, they nourish their cooking habits, and spark some inspiration in their cooking.

You can move mountains with cooking… or little grains of sand… little or big every effort is equally important to me. Cooking creates memories, habits, roots, traditions. You can start creating today. Thats why this movie, was fascinating.  I was really moved by Chef Gastón philosophy of work and how it empowers and awakens the caring for their roots and pride in their craft, in other cooks.

With all these elements in mind, I was inspired to create this Ceviche Verde “my style”.  México also has inherited Ceviche in their own way,  it is a common dish in the coastal towns. It always has been part of our culinary traditions. Mexican Ceviche is categorized as street food with a few exceptions to the rule. Being from Mexico,  Ceviche has its own place in my heart, its the healthy street food for us and a Summer must. I remember fondly  the ceviches in Ensenada, Puerto Vallarta, Todos Santos-Baja California and the Ceviche from my Aunt Paloma.  They are many versions of Ceviche Verde out there, this is mine.

I humbly dedicate this Ceviche Verde recipe to Chef Gastón Acurio!
      “Esperando algún día, el poder alinear y llevar acabo estas ideas en mi cocina Mexicana”… Gracias y Salud!

Ceviche-Verde_ingredientsCeviche-Verde_Yes,-more-please!

Ceviche Verde

Serves 4 sailors 6 mermaids

Notes for the Cook, please when in making this recipe, very carefully read the instructions.  I’m giving you very specific easy to follow instructions, some of my little secrets about how to make the best ceviche at home. This ceviche verde is served with corn tostaditas, plantain chips, or thin salty crackers. It Makes for a great lunch or light summer dinner.  If you are entertaining, ceviche can be served in avocado halves one half per person, stuffed with 2-3 generous spoonfuls of this ceviche will make a great appetizer. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. Lets cook!

1.5 lbs Fresh Tuna, sushi grade.  I used SkipJack fresh tuna*
1/2 cup lime juice aprox. 4-5 large juicy limes
1 lemon, limon real, yellow lemon
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt

All the following ingredients finely chopped:
1/2 small white onion
4 scallions white and green parts
1/2 cup cucumber de-seeded, I used english cucumber, 
they are crunchy, skin is thin and they have very little seeds.
6-8 small tomatillos
1 tablespoon capers
4 tablespoons Parsley

1 green apple small diced

1 thinly sliced Serrano pepper
10-12 Mexican Hierbabuena or Mint Leaves chiffonade
1/2 cup Castelvetrano Olives

Garnish with:

Avocado
Limes
Mint
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Serve with: Crackers, Plantain Chips, Corn chips, OR Tostadas

*If you want to know more about different kind of tuna and the safest way to consume it click here to view a green peace full report on the matter.

Preparation Method:

1. Start by preparing the tuna. Place fresh tuna block into the freezer for about 10-15 minutes before cutting. Prepare your plastic cutting board, and a set of nesting wide shallow bowls or platters one with ice cubes and place the second bowl on top of the ice, to keep the diced tuna as cold as possible while you dice it. Using the sharpest long knife you have, cut tuna into 3/8″ of an inch medium dice cubes, about 1X1x1 cm. Place the diced tuna in the iced bowl as you go, to keep it cold and temperature safe.

Ceviche-Verde-SkipJack-TunaCeviche-Verde_Keep-fish-fresh

2. Line the tuna dices in the shallow bowl into one layer, add the lime juice and 2 small pinches of salt. Discard de ice of second bowl. Place the top bowl with the tuna into the refrigerator and let macerate for 15-20 minutes.

Ceviche-Verde_-Jugo-de-Limon

Ceviche-Verde_cooking-fish-with-lime-juice

3. Diced tuna should have white edges and a soft pinkish color, with deep red centers. If it looks like this, your tuna is ready, unless you prefer your fish more cooked, give it another 5-10 minutes.

Ceviche-Verde_cooked-fresh-tuna-in-Lime-juice

4. Discard about 3/4 of the lime-tuna juices. This pink liquid is known as “leche de tigre”, “tiger milk” some people reserve this juice and mix it with hot sauce, onion, cilantro, or coconut milk and  serve it as a little side shoot. Tale has it that is not only delicious, it also gives lots of energy and vigor. I can not attest of this benefits, yet I can say the little cocktail concoction is delicious.  If you feel adventurous give it a shot, if not just stick to the ceviche plan preparation and discard this juice.

What I do know for sure is that this step of removing the lime juice -tuna juices it is quintessential to the flavor and ceviche preparation. Often the biggest mistake I have found while watching other people prepare their ceviches is living this juice in it. Why? well, for many reasons, one is flavor, it makes the dish extremely acid, cloudy, muddy and unbalanced. By removing all this juices you clear out the flavors leaving the fish flesh to shine. Another and MOST important reason, by removing this lime juice, you stop the cooking process so your fish does not overcook and stays on the right consistency and texture. And third your vegetables stay crisp and crunchy, and of course the ultimate reason you give yourself and other people the opportunity to try that “Tiger Milk” …. hehehe…

So, please make sure you remove all those lime-tuna juices before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Ceviche-Verde_Leche-de-Tigre_Yes,-more-please!

5. Now time to re-season the tuna. Add 2-3 good drizzles of a green and grassy extra virgin olive oil, the rest of the sea salt, gently toss, add a pinch of sugar, gently toss .

Ceviche-Verde_How-to-prepare-ceviche

6. Add all the chopped vegetables and herbs, white onion, scallions, cucumbers, tomatillos, green apples, capers, parsley, serranos, olives, mint, and the juice of 1/2 yellow lemon about 1 tablespoon. Toss well and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary with sea salt, . Gently toss well let flavors marry for about 10-15 minutes.

Ceviche-Verde_Castelvetrano-Olives

CEviche-Verde_Summer-Best-Fish-Recipe

Ceviche-Verde-Tuna-Yes,-more-please!

7. When ready to serve, plate the ceviche in a nice cold platter, avocado slices on the side, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with mint, and slices of lemon. Enjoy

Ceviche-Verde_Best-Summer-Recipe_Yes,-more-please!

 

“How we use the power of cooking to transform the life of our people, our loved ones” ~ Gastón Acurio

Want to know more about Ceviche origins:

Check this link http://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/04/13/the-mysterious-origins-of-ceviche/

Print

CEVICHE VERDE

www.yes-moreplease.com

Notes for the Cook, please when in making this recipe, very carefully read the instructions. I’m giving you very specific easy to follow instructions, some of my little secrets about how to make the best ceviche at home. This ceviche verde is served with corn tostaditas, plantain chips, or thin salty crackers. It Makes for a great lunch or light summer dinner. If you are entertaining, ceviche can be served in avocado halves one half per person, stuffed with 2-3 generous spoonfuls of this ceviche will make a great appetizer. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. Lets cook!

Course Brunch, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs. fresh Tuna, sushi grade, Mahi-mahi will work well too. I used Skip Jack fresh tuna*
  • 1/2 cup Lime juice, aprox. 4-5 large juicy limes.
  • 1 Lemon juice, Yellow lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt

All the following ingredients finely chopped:

  • 1/2 small white onion
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts
  • 1/2 cup english cucumber de-seeded
  • 6-8 tomatillos
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 4 tablespoons Parsley
  • 1 small green Apple
  • 1 serrano pepper, thinly sliced
  • 10-12 leaves Mexican Hierbabuena or Mint, chiffonade
  • 1/2 cup Castelvetrano Olives

Garnish with:

  • Avocado, slices
  • Lime, wedges
  • Hierbabuena or Mint leaves
  • a good drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. 1. Start by preparing the tuna. Place fresh tuna block into the freezer for about 10-15 minutes before cutting. Prepare your plastic cutting board, and a set of nesting wide shallow bowls or platters one with ice cubes and place the second bowl on top of the ice, to keep the diced tuna as cold as possible while you dice it. Using the sharpest long knife you have, cut tuna into 3/8″ of an inch medium dice cubes, about 1X1x1 cm. Place the diced tuna in the iced bowl as you go, to keep it cold and temperature safe.

    2. Line the tuna dices in the shallow bowl into one layer, add the lime juice and 2 small pinches of salt. Discard de ice of second bowl. Place the top bowl with the tuna into the refrigerator and let macerate for 15-20 minutes.

    3. Diced tuna should have white edges and a soft pinkish color, with deep red centers. If it looks like this, your tuna is ready, unless you prefer your fish more cooked, give it another 5-10 minutes.

    4. Discard about 3/4 of the lime-tuna juices. This pink liquid is known as “leche de tigre”, “tiger milk” some people reserve this juice and mix it with hot sauce, onion, cilantro, or coconut milk and serve it as a little side shoot. Tale has it that is not only delicious, it also gives lots of energy and vigor. I can not attest of this benefits, yet I can say the little cocktail concoction is delicious. If you feel adventurous give it a shot, if not just stick to the ceviche plan preparation and discard this juice.

    What I do know for sure is that this step of removing the lime juice -tuna juices it is quintessential to the flavor and ceviche preparation. Often the biggest mistake I have found while watching other people prepare their ceviches is living this juice in it. Why? well, for many reasons, one is flavor, it makes the dish extremely acid, cloudy, muddy and unbalanced. By removing all this juices you clear out the flavors leaving the fish flesh to shine. Another and MOST important reason, by removing this lime juice, you stop the cooking process so your fish does not overcook and stays on the right consistency and texture. And third your vegetables stay crisp and crunchy, and of course the ultimate reason you give yourself and other people the opportunity to try that “Tiger Milk” …. hehehe…

    So, please make sure you remove all those lime-tuna juices before adding the rest of the ingredients.

    5. Now time to re-season the tuna. Add 2-3 good drizzles of a green and grassy extra virgin olive oil, the rest of the sea salt, gently toss, add a pinch of sugar, gently toss.

    6. Add all the chopped vegetables and herbs, white onion, scallions, cucumbers, tomatillos, green apples, capers, parsley, serranos, olives, mint, and the juice of 1/2 yellow lemon about 1 tablespoon. Toss well and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary with sea salt, . Gently toss well let flavors marry for about 10-15 minutes.

    7. When ready to serve, plate the ceviche in a nice cold platter, avocado slices on the side, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with mint, and slices of lemon. Enjoy

    Happy Cooking!

    www.yes-moreplease.com


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Pan de Cazón Campeche México

Pan-de-Cazon-Campechano_Yes,-more-please!

The first time I had Pan de Cazón in Campeche México it was a revelation to me.
I was traveling in Mexico with two of my best friends and architecture colleagues back in our student days, circa 1998. We were in Campeche on a very honorable mission of developing a great project for the City: The “Biblioteca Universo Maya” -“Mayan Universe Library”. The architectural dream project of every student. A constructive binomial, a Church and Monastery, from the sixteenth century that was going to hold the biggest collection of Mayan information in Mexico. I remember the first day in the city we met people and acquired information, details, measurements, and blue prints. We needed every single piece of information in order to start the project.
Between meetings and planning, the morning went fast and soon enough it was lunch time- “comida”. In the blink of an eye we were guided to a restaurant to cool down. I remember not coping well with the humid hot weather of this beautiful city. Hungry and thirsty, we sat at a restaurant and started receiving some recommendations from the waiter and the friend who brought us. They both made the same recommendation: “Pan de Cazón”.

I heard that, and started reading the description from the menu. Soon I was confused. To be honest the whole combination of ingredients sounded a little cacophonous to me. Pan means “bread” and Cazón is the “flesh from a little shark”, so “fish”. My overheated brain could not elaborate an objective idea of what this dish meant. Our friend was very enthusiastic about the idea of us trying the most iconic dishes from the city. I listened to her description and agreed to try something new.
To my pleasant surprise when the plate arrived I was hit with the most delicious aroma of the warm tomato sauce. The plate was layered with a short stack of tortillas covered with the bright aromatic and silky orange color sauce. A charred green habanero garnished the top of the stack like the cherry on top of a cake, loud and proud, and the perky steam insinuating bit me. So as I dug into it… I can see the layers of tortilla, black beans and sauteed fleshy white fish. My first bite confirmed what I suspected. This “Pan de Cazón” was a harmonious and a conspicuous ceremony of ingredients aligned in such a way that it was absolutely delicious.

Why? Well, to describe the dish in detail, imagine four freshly handmade corn tortillas slightly fried, smothered with silky herbaceous loosely refried black beans (frijoles colados), flaky, slightly smoky, juicy, and tender white fish sauteed with onions and tomato; all stacked into a four tortilla tower, and then sauced generously with probably one of the world’s earliest cooked tomato sauces. Chiltomate is a rustic sauce, made with the simplest ingredients tomato, onions, and chile. Pure pre-conquest Mayan ingredients, roasted, crushed, seasoned with sea salt and sieved until it yielded the most pure, silky, fruity, honest and yet bold tomato sauce.
For an architect and a cook this was a glorious construction of flavor. With my fist bite I understood Campeche. Pre-conquest flavors, elevated on a simple harmonious way. I think from that day and the next 10 days we stayed in the city, I ordered Pan de Cazon at least once a day. Yes, because you can have Pan de Cazón for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner. In my Campeche, you can.

How-to-make-pan-de-Cazon,-Peceta-Pan-de-Cazon

Now, Why you would want to make this dish? I will give you one good enough reason: “People, Friends, Cooks, Foodies, Health nuts, Mommas and Papas, Students, PLEASE! Look for variety in your fish. Eating salmon, tuna, the same fish over and over can make for a monotonous cuisine and also is not healthy for our oceans. Explore other fish sizes, ranges, flavors and preparations, expect great rewards!

Fish do not have to be bland, or muted, or fried, smothered in batter, ketchup and tartar sauce, to taste good. I just have to be fresh. Campechanos have a saying “when fish smells of tastes like fish do not eat it” period. Get the freshest fish you can, search a good source in your city. If you are land locked as I am here in Texas far away from the coast, investigate local markets for the less traveled fish you can find.

Salsa-Chiltomate_Yes,-more-please

Based on this memory I tried to recreate the recipe. The way I remembered, the way I wanted it to taste. I read some recipes but the flavor profile do not resembled of what I tasted there. I had to rely on my tastebuds memory to recreate the recipe. Fifteen years have gone by since I was in Campeche, and if my memory is faithful I think I have achieved a close match. Apologies to all the amazing Campechanos Cooks, is not my intention to disrespect the recipe, it is in fact the opposite to make it as close in flavor as I can with what I have in this location, pure Genius Loci.

I have been cooking in the states for a long time, and I have found that sometimes even if you are using the correct ingredients, food, ingredients and recipes do not taste the same. And of course they don’t! they never will. Too many variables and a different locus. I have found that for example Epazote does not taste fresh and fragrant when it has been refrigerated in transport to the market. Searching for that same flavor, I have noticed that a native herb from texas “Texas Marigold” or “Mexican Mint Marigold”(as some people call it here in Texas) this herb, in combination with dry oregano, tastes very similar to fresh Mexican epazote. And that makes me happier than buying a refrigerated herb. When I taste and recognize the flavor in my taste buds memory and it translates into the food or dish I’m trying to recreate I feel like I hit the jackpot!

I have written some of the substitutions, or interchanging ingredients, just in case that like me, you are in another part of the world and in need to make those substitutions. And also the original herb to be used if you are in the right geographical place to traditionally make it.

What became of the Biblioteca Universo Maya ? Well, we worked on the project for about 6 months, prepared a presentation for the Campeche Governor, went back to Campeche and make the presentation. Proudly one of the best projects we ever made together. Unfortunately the project still on the back burner. Maybe one of these days when the state budget allows it it will be built. Could be that the best is yet to come…Right? Igor, Juan Pablo?…will see.

This recipe is fairly simple. Besides the different components, all of them are very easy to prepare. So hold on tight and get your cooking mojo going because after tasting this Pan de Cazón you are going to be having a truly Austin via Campeche dish!
Enjoy!

Pan-de-Cazon-ingredients

Pan de Cazón Campeche México

Serves 4 or 2 hungry Campechanos

16 –  4”-5” in diameter homemade corn tortillas preferable,*click here for tortilla recipe and tutorial
1 lb. Cazon, aka Dogfish, or Red Snapper, Cod or Halibut, grilled over wood or natural charco preferable, or poached as recipe follows.
2 cups black beans
3 cups Chiltomate sauce, recipe follows.

Garnish with:
Charred habaneros
Avocado slices
Pickled red onions

Originally Pan de Cazon is served with “Aguacate de Agua”. Which its fruitier and less oily. Its hard to find this type of avocado here in Texas, but I believe that avocado Haas will do great.

Preparation Method:

1. Start by preparing the quick pickled onions:

Red-Pickled-Onions-and-Habaneros

Red Pickled Onions

1 medium red onion
the juice of 1 medium lime
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon Sea salt
1 habanero small diced

Thinly slice the red onions, rinse them well under cold water. Place them on a small bowl add the rest of the ingredients toss well with the help of two forks, let them marinate for at least 20-30 minutes.

2. Prepare the fish:

Poaching-Fish_Pan-de-Cazon_Campeche

Poached white Fish with Texas Mexican Mint

1 lb. Pan de Cazón aka Dogfish, or Red Snapper, Cod or Halibut will work too.
1 small onion, half finely chopped, half on wedges
2 garlic cloves halved, 2 garlic cloves diced
1 medium tomato diced
6-8 Texas Marigold fresh leaves or 2-3 fresh epazote leaves.

On a small pan place the fresh fish fillet, along with ½ white onion in wedges, 2-3 Texas marigold sprigs, a pinch of oregano, one garlic, ½ teaspoon sea salt and 2 cups of water. Cover with a lid bring to a barely simmer, and cook until the flesh is white about 5-7 minutes. Remove the lid every now and then and baste the fish with its own broth. Once is cooked, carefully transfer the fish to a plate and save the broth. You will use it into the sauce and when sauteing the fish.

On a saute pan, heat up 1 tablespoon sunflower oil, add the other half diced onions. Sweat the onions,add diced garlic, add diced tomatoes, salt and the marigold leaves torn into pieces. Saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the shredded fish, toss well and add about ½ cup of the broth in which the fish was cooked in. Briefly cook for 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust salt if necessary. Set aside.

Cazon-salteado_Yes,-more-please!

3. Refried Black Beans:

Re-fry 2 cups of black beans along with ½ diced white onion, and 5-6 leaves of epazote or Texas Marigold Mint. Add extra bean broth to leave the beans on a lose consistency. If you need instructions on how to make your black beans check my “Mexican Bean Manifesto”

4. For the Chiltomate Sauce:

Salsa-Chiltomate_Yes,-more-please

Chiltomate-Tomato Sauce

2 pounds Roma tomatoes
½ small white onion
1 habanero pepper
1 medium garlic clove
12-16 medium-large leaves of fresh Texas Marigold or 4-5 Fresh epazote leaves, and omit oregano.
2 pinches of dry mexican oregano, rubb it into your fingers to pulverize and unlock its aroma.
½ teaspoon to a teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoon sunflower oil

The juice of ½ an orange and 1/4 teaspoon of orange zest*optional, the original dish do not includes the orange juice or zest. The tomatoes I bought where a bit lacking in sweetness and fragrance, so I decided to enhance the fruity flavor by using some citrus. Use this ingredient upon the quality of tomatoes you are using.

Roast the tomatoes, onion, habanero on a baking pan in a 450F degree oven for about 8-12 minutes or until the tomatoes are chard and blistered, and onions have charred edges.
Using a fork and a knife de-seed and devein the habanero. Be very careful not to touch the habanero directly with your hands. This chile is extremely spicy and all the concentrated heat is on the seeds. So use a fork and a knife and dissect the chile. Leave the charred skin on.

Place the roasted tomatoes, onion, garlic, de-seeded deveined habanero and the rest of the ingredients on a blender until well pureed. Sieve the pure and add about ¾ cup of the fish stock to wash the reminders of the puree. This will produce the most silky and smooth sauce, the sieving step is very important because it will remove the tomato seeds and skins.

In a small pot heat up the sunflower oil and add the chiltomate puree. Expect splattering. Lower the heat and bring the sauce to a slow simmer. Cook and reduce liquids for about 6-8 minutes until you have a smooth silky tomato sauce. If the sauce is to watery cook it for a little longer, if is to thick add a bit more of the fish stock. Taste and correct seasoning if necessary.

Sieving-the-Chiltomate-salsa_Pan-de-Cazon

5. Quick pan fry the tortillas,

On a pan add a drizzle of sunflower or corn oil, until slightly toasty but pliable.

Assembling the Pan de Cazon:

Layers-Pan-de-Cazon_Recipe-from-Campeche

Once you have all the components prepared and warm,
Start by layering on a plate a pan fried tortilla, evenly spread a tablespoon of the refried black beans. Then add 1-2 tablespoons of the sauteed fish on an even layer. Ladle a tablespoon of the Tomato sauce over the fish, and repeat this layer sequence two more times. Finish the tower with a tortilla. You will have 4 tortilla layers total. If serving multiple plates assemble all the towers at the same time, place them in the oven to keep warm. Keep the tomato sauce warm. Right before serving baste each tower with about 1 cup of the piping hot chiltomate sauce. Garnish with avocado, pickled onions and do not forget the cherry on the top: the charred habanero!
Enjoy!

Pan-de-Cazon_Yes-more-please!

Pan de cazón_Campeche_Yes, more please!

Pan-de-Cazon_Campeche_Traditional-Mexican-Cooking_Yes,-more-please!

Buen Provecho!

Music Pairing: Jarabe Criollo – Campeche

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Mexican Beans Manifesto

How-to-cook-dry-Beans

Cooked, de la Olla, or Refried… I want to share with you my love for beans and how I bean.

I’m from Mexico. Along with corn, this simple food is a staple in our national diet. There are many great foods from my homeland but homemade beans have a way to my heart. The warm earthiness, texture, and flavor of a well prepared pot of beans, this is my comfort food. In fact “frijoles de la olla” boil-cooked beans are my “last supper” meal. With this said , you can imagine I’m very particular and appreciative about identifying truly great beans.

My love affair with beans’ simplicity that made me realize how many versions of “how to cook beans” are out there. They utilize many ingredients, cooking methods, pots, herbs, you name it , and yet most miss the mark for me when it comes to authentic style Mexican beans. I can not understand how something so simple to make has been so misunderstood. I feel the deep responsibility to clear this confusion and define Mexican style beans. After this you will discover an untroubled path in preparing this Mexican caviar.

Keep it simple. Slow down. When it comes to beans, It is about respecting the ingredient. Slowly and patiently cooking a pot of beans will yield the best pot of beans you ever had. Why to cook them by scratch? they taste far better than from the can, period. So lets start.

How-to-cook-Dry-Beans_How-you-Bean-_Yes,-more-please!

How to chose your beans:

Type of Beans:
There are infinite possibilities when it comes to beans. From the dark black beans which have a delicious intense flavor, to the medium brown creamy Pinto Beans, to the light, creamy and more potato-ey flavor like the Peruano, Mayocoba or Flor de Mayo beans. Each of these varieties have different purposes. They pair better with different Mexican cooking styles. For example, Black Beans found in Central-East and South East of Mexico, Mexico City, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Veracruz, Campeche, Yucatan, Quintana Roo. Peruano, Flor de Mayo are more common in South Central like Jalisco, Michoacan, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi. While Pinto beans are the beans of choice for almost all the North of Mexico, all the way from Tijuana to Monterrey.

From the traditional store bought varieties the most common kinds are Pinto Beans, Peruano, Mayocoba, Flor de Mayo, and Black Beans. These four kinds are available in most supermarkets in the USA.

Heirloom Beans: These are the caviar of beans. If you truly want to experiment and try new flavors and textures, this varieties are gonna blow your socks off.
My favorite source for heirloom beans here in the states is Rancho Gordo. Steve Sando has truly made an authentic effort and a life mission to rescue the almost lost varieties of heirloom beans in Mexico and Latin America. Thank you Steve!. My favorite Beans from Rancho Gordo: Rebosero, Rosa de Castilla, Acoyote Negro, Rio Zape, Pinto Beans, and of course me being from Guadalajara Jalisco, Flor de Mayo or Peruano for refried beans are one of my favorite beans.

Where to buy your beans?

I shop for beans at Mexican or ethnic supermarkets. Why? Well, where I live and shop they have new-er beans, since their turn-around on the dry beans purchase is bigger than in other stores. I often buy them pre-bagged. I like to make sure than the bag looks shiny, “hint”-you know how plastic bags can get a little opaque the older they are. Look for well sealed no holes or static webs on the inside corners of the bag. Usually these are more evident signs that let you know if the bag has been on the shelf for a long time. Use common sense.
When it comes to buying them from bulk sections, shiny beans are a good sign. The smell of the bean will let you know if they are fresher. Old dry beans start to smell a bit nutty and rancid. If you have your doubts ask the manager in charge of the bulk area or simply don’t buy them. You have to trust your source.

I always buy my dry beans one or two days before I cook them and I don’t usually have lots of bean bags on my pantry. I would rather cook them all at the same time and keep them in the freezer ready to go. I think this is the trick to convenience when it comes to beans.

How-to-cook-Dry-Beans_Mexican-style,-Utencils,-Clay-pots,-Wood-spoons,-Bean-Smasher

Where to cook your beans:

Bean pots make the difference when cooking beans, from flavor to cooking time, always choose what ever is best or more convenient for you.
Clay pot, the traditional way beans are cooked. I truly believe there is not a greater bean than the ones cooked on clay pots, so delicious. The Clay pot imparts great flavor to the beans. Make sure your clay pot is from a reliable source and that it is made for cooking. Both of my pots were given to me from a lady from Chihuahua ( Thank you Felipa I love my pots!) So if you know somebody from Mexico ask for a favor, its worth it. Also, It is unbelievable how fast beans cook in a clay pot.
Cooking time: 1hr and 30 minutes, to 2 hours tops.

Dutch enamel creates a great heat source, however your pot might get stained or darken a little bit.
Cooking time 3-4 hours.

Cast iron, beans will get an extra douse of iron. A slightly metallic flavor might be imparted. But if your cast iron pot is well seasoned this option is a winner!
Cooking time 2hrs and 30min.

Stainless Steel, safe and sound, it might take longer to cook, since stainless steel pots don’t retain as much heat as clay or cast iron, but it will get the job done. Clean flavor and no committing to buy a new pot. Time to cook 2hrs and 30min. to 3hrs.

Slow cooker The safest bet for people with busy schedules. I love the slow cooker results. If I choose to use the slow cooker method I cook them in my enclosed patio to avoid the cloudy smell of beans inside my house during the cooking time. It works like a charm!
Time: on high about 4 pounds of beans need 5-6 hours, depending on your slow cooker. Try to set up a timer, check on beans for doneness so next time you know how long they need.
Note: For slow cooker beans always, always salt until they are fully cooked. Let beans cool down on the pot and they will absorb the salt.

Pressure cooker: No doubt this is the reverse of slow. The fastest method to cook beans on a flash of time. If you are less romantic than me when it comes to cooking, this is your ticket to fast and efficient. Beans will be ready in 45 minutes aprox.

To soak or not to soak?

To be honest with you, I never soak my beans and I always have great results. In fact I don’t like to soak them. When I have done this my beans split and the skins separate from the bean… I just don’t have great results with soaking them. As I mentioned, my advice is to buy buys from a reliable source, and always cook them on a slow simmer. How slow? Well you barely see one or 2 bubbles coming up. Beans don’t like to be on a hurry when cooking.

How-to-cook-Dry-Beans_Yes,-more-please!

Bean Seasoning:

Very few seasonings. When cooking a basic pot of beans, I just add : ¼ of a medium size onion, one chile (fresh or dry) and water.
Experiment. I usually use a fresh chile with whiter beans, like pinto and Peruano. When it comes to Reboseros and Black beans I go for a Cascabel, Morita, Chipotle or a Guajillo. Why? Well I think that fresh chiles will complement the milder beans, and the deep rich beans like negros, acoyotes, and rebozeros, because of their color and deeper flavor will benefit from a dry or smokey chile, although there is no rule for it this is just how I bean.
When it comes to herbs and spices you can add some epazote fresco, or garlic specially when cooking black beans, which will compliment the flavor turning the broth into a liquorish herbaceous flavor.
White beans like cannelloni, will benefit from rosemary, bay, or fennel fronds. But wait a minute…this is a Mexican Bean post…rewind that..oh well.

Howto-cook-Dry-Beans_Best condiments to cook your beans

SALT matter:

Use good flavorful sea salt, or Kosher salt. Remember the recipe is just beans and a little onion and a chile, so the quality of the salt you are using is going to shine through. I use sea salt from Cuyutlan, Colima, Jalisco Mexico I love the flavor and freshness of this bright salt. Check this link if you want to know more about it. 
Always salt your beans right before you think they are done, about 30 minutes or so. If for some reason the beans are ready and you have not salted them, no worries, you still have the chance to add the salt stir carefully, cook for 5 more minutes and turn the heat off. The beans will keep absorbing some of the salty broth, its not the end of the world its just beans. The biggest mistake would be salting the beans at an early stage of cooking. This will make the skins tough, and they will not cook evenly. So restrain.

Howto-cook-Dry-Beans_Pinto-Beans

When Cooking Beans:

Sort, and rinse well your beans.this is important, sort throughly look for little stones or dry sticks from the plant. Rinse them in cold water rubbing well one or two times until water come out clear.
Slow down. Beans like to be cooked at a steady heat. Bring water to a boil, add the beans and then lower the heat to a slow simmer. Covered with a agar lid. Beans like to be tossed every now and then, but not to often. Give them time, enough water about 3 inches of water over the bean level. If water is needed during the cooking and beans look a bit dry ALWAYS add boiling water, and gently toss. The boiling water will keep the beans from splitting and skins will not fall apart. Always salt your beans a little before when they are fully cooked, and when ready let them sit on the stove to slowly cool down. If you live in warm humid weather, you might want to cool your beans faster and transfer your beans sooner to the refrigerator, since they can turn sour in a blink of an eye.

How-to-refried-beans

Fat:

Lard, Sunflower Oil, Corn Oil, Coconut Oil, Bacon, No matter what kind of fat you choose, for me the most important step when preparing refried beans is to cook and heat your oil or fat of choice properly. Place the oil or lard or a combination of both in the pan and let it warm up slowly, until is rippling hot. The color on the oil or lard must change to a deeper golden before adding your onions. This is an essential step, if you remember to heat up and cook your oil, you will always have great flavor in your beans. Authentic refried beans are made with lard there is no other way. The flavor is incomparable. But the reality is that for every day beans sunflower or corn oil is what everybody uses at home, leaving the lard-beans for holidays or special celebrations. When using Lard, I highly recommend leaf lard-pastured non-hydrogenated. If you live in Austin Tx, Salt and Time sells great quality lard on small amounts conveniently packed in their refrigerator. (Great to make amazing tamales by the way) Other brands for good quality Lard, Fatworks, or Leaf Lard are great.

A great alternative to avoid animal fat but give great flavor to your beans is Coconut Oil. I highly encourage you to give it a try, especially on black beans, with some sautéed plantains on the side…Mmm.

Freezing:

Beans can not be more noble, they freeze beautifully; freeze them whole in their broth or refried. They stay good for up to six months!!!. This is why I encourage you to cook a BIG batch of beans every time you make them. I portion out for 2-4 and I Freeze them into disposable bags, or small plastic containers that will fit my saute pan or soup pot, so I can de-frost on the stove if I forget to thaw them. (which seems to happen all the time) and since I reheat on a stovetop. These portions last me 1-2 months and they are life savers of convenience. On weekends I reheat some frijolitos and serve with tortillas and a good salsa and a couple of eggs for a breakfast of champions.

After all this information, now you might have a better grasp on the bean matter. So following there are 4 basic recipes for you to try. First one Frijoles de la olla, its the basic you need to start cooking your beans at home. no matter what kind of pot you have, apply the same recipe and concepts.

Frijoles de la Olla:

Frijoles de la olla, any type of beans can be cook in this manner, a few suggestions on what to add for different seasonings are included at the end of the recipe. A bowl of this beans, with pico de gallo salsa, a dollop of crema, queso fresco, and home made corn tortillas its all I wish for my last supper.
How-to-cook-dry-Beans_Frijoles-de-la-olla---Yes,-more-please!

Makes about 12 cups of cooked beans plus broth.

2 pounds/1 kilo of dry beans (pinto, peruano, flor de mayo, rebozero, or black beans etc..)
sorted,and rinsed.
8-10 cups water
1/3 white onion
1 dry chile like arbol, cascabel, huajillo or 1 fresh chile, like serrano, jalapeno, guero or habanero.

Sea salt about 1-2 tablespoons upon your taste.

In a clay pot, add beans,water, onion, and chile. Bring water to a boil, then lower the heat to a slow simmer. Cover with a lid. And cook for 1hr and 30 min. Stir beans once or twice using a long wood spoon. Gently stir beans from bottom to the top. Test for doneness: carefully take one bean and smash in between your fingertips. If is soft like a potato but holds it self together they are done. If they feel a little firmer in the middle they are almost there, add the sea salt and cook them for another 15-20 minutes. Check for doneness, taste and turn off the pot leave the lid on and have your self a little pre-tasting in a bowl. Correct salt if necessary.

At this point they are ready. Serve these freshly cooked beans with pico de gallo, Mexican crema, queso fresco o frijolero, warm tortillas, and a spicy salsa it all you need for a great legume dinner. Enjoy!

Once the beans have cooled down portion out your bags and containers and label with date and name. Freeze and use when ever you need them. If in need of a bigger batch, double the amounts on this recipe minus 2 cups of water and go easy on the salt. Remember you might need a bigger pot. Have fun!

The next 3 recipes are the basic of how to make refried beans. Truly re-fried beans Mexican style. Humble and simple but if you follow this little steps you will have great refried beans at home. Enjoy the recipe ride!

Refried Beans

You can make refried beans practically with any kind of bean. My favorite versions are Flor de Mayo, Pinto, Rebosero, Peruano and Frijoles negros.

How-to-make-Refried-Pinto-Beans-Mexican-Style_Yes,-more-please!

Yields about 3 cups

¼ cup Sunflower oil, corn oil, coconut oil.
¼ cup chopped white onion and pinch of salt.
4 cups cooked beans
1 cup bean broth

In a saute pan heat up the oil on a medium high heat until rippling hot. I recommend using a pan WITHOUT non-stick coating like cast iron or stainless steel. Saute onion until you get golden brown edges. Carefully add the beans and bean broth pouring away from you, to protect your hands from any splatter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to slow simmer and start mashing up the beans until creamy*, Some visible skins are ok. Once they are smashed, start stirring constantly until they look pasty and start separating from the edges of the pan. Usually if you can shake your pan and all the beans stay together like a blanket that slides on the pan, your refried beans are ready!, Slide them onto a platter and fold like making a big oval shape. Crumble some queso fresco, or cotija anejo, some totopos and they are ready to serve, Enjoy!

Variations:
Chiles: Add one dry or fresh chile, like arbol, cascabel, or serrano to the oil and saute along with the onions to give some extra spice note to the beans. Remove the chile before smashing the beans, or smash along if you are a spicy soul.
Lard: If using lard, it is a must to cook the lard on low medium heat until it changes color to a golden light brown. This is a key step that will give the best flavor to the beans. Add onion and a chile for extra layer of flavor.
Herbs:Any addition like hoja de ahuacate, hoja santa, epazote, poblanos can be added when sauteing the onions for extra flavor. It is very important to remove the herbs before smashing the beans, to avoid the beans from getting bitter.
*Remember you can mash them up to your preference, I some times like them a little chunky, or well mashed and I add a bit more bean broth to make them more creamy and loose.

How-to-make-Refried-Pinto-Beans_Yes,-more-pleaseHow-to-make-refried-Beans_Yes,-more-pelase!

Chorizo-Arbol Refried Beans

This beans are simply scrumptious. Specially if you use a good quality chorizo. Here in Austin, Tx my favorite chorizo is made and sold by Smith and Smith Farms. It is a fresh chorizo, not cased, very meaty crumbles with just the right ratio of fat. Spices are spot on to make this delicious chorizo beans. (If you are in Austin give Colby a call and he will save a little bag for you at any of the Farmers Market on Sundays, Mueller or Domain). 

Chorizo-Refried-Beans_Yes,-more-please!

Yields 4-5 cups

2 tablespoons cup Sunflower oil, corn oil.
3 dry chiles de arbol
6 oz chorizo fresco
¼ cup chopped white onion
4 cups cooked beans
1-1/2 cups bean broth
1 teaspoon apple vinegar

In a large saute pan, heat up the oil and toast the chiles de arbol into the oil until dark mahogany red.
Remove the chiles and set them aside. Add the chorizo and crumble finely using a wooden spatula. Saute the chorizo along with the chopped onions until onions are soft. Add cooked beans, bean broth, vinegar and one of the toasted dry chiles. Bring to boil, reduce to a slow simmer. Smash the beans until creamy, some pieces of skins and the little chorizo crumbs are visible it is ok. Saute for about 3-4 more minutes until desired consistency. I like this kind of beans on the lose side, but is totally up to your preference. When ready transfer into a plater, sprinkle some queso fresco, and garnish with the rest of the toasted chiles de arbol. Serve immediately along with totopos or warm corn or flour tortillas are ideal, Enjoy!

how to make Chorizo Beans-Frijoles con chorizo

Black Refried Beans

These Black beans are one of my favorite beans. They are full of flavor, decadent and rich.
Serve them like Veracruz style with some sauteed plantains on the side, some sauteed serrano peppers or habaneros and you will have the best side dish for cochinita pibil, rice and chicken, pork tamales, chile con carne or a simple home made breakfast with two sunny side up eggs on the side.

How to make refried Black beans_Yes, more please!

Yields 4 cups

1/4 cup Sunflower oil, corn oil, lard or Coconut Oil*
¼ cup chopped white onion and pinch of salt.
2 smashed garlic cloves
4 cups cooked beans
1-1/2 cups bean broth

In a non non-stick (cast iron, stainless) saute pan heat up the oil on a medium high heat until rippling hot. Saute onion until golden brown edges, add garlic and saute for 1 minute be careful not to scorch the garlic. Carefully add the beans and bean broth pouring away from you, to protect your hands from any splatter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to slow simmer and start mashing up the beans until creamy*, some visible skins are ok. Once they are smashed, star stirring constantly until they look pasty and start separating from the edges of the pan. Usually if you can shake your pan and all the beans stay together like a blanket that slides on the pan, your refried beans are ready!, Slide them onto a platter and fold like making a big oval shape. Garnish with some sauteed serrano peppers or habaneros, plantains, crumble some queso fresco, or cotija anejo, totopos and they are ready to serve, Enjoy!

*Traditionally these black beans are made with lard. My advise, is get the best pure lard you can get. I highly recommend leaf lard-pastured non-hydrogenated. If you live in Austin Tx, Salt and Time sells great quality leaf lard on small amounts conveniently packed in their refrigerator. Other brands Fatworks, or Leaf Lard are great too. A great alternative to avoid animal fat but give great flavor is Coconut Oil. I highly encourage you to give it a try, especially on black beans. It adds great flavor, and in combination with some plantains, its to die for.

How-to-Refried-Black-Beans_Frijoles-Negros-Fritos_Yes,-more-please!

So this is How I bean…How you bean?

How-to-cook-Beans-All-about-Refried-Beans-Yes,-more-please!

Music Pairing: Bonito y Sabroso-Como Fue Beny More

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Vegetable Taco Fillings A Mexican love letter to Vegetables

Vegetable Taco Fillings_Ideas_ recipes _Yes, more please!

Feelings…. nothing more than Fillings”… Hello friends, we’re back.We have been on a roller coaster; from a vacation in Mexico, to Slow Wine Festival, meeting new people, giving cooking classes, Ian giving lots of photography classes…we have been busy, but you have always been on our minds.

Visiting my Mexico after more than eight years was reinvigorating. Being back in my birth country was very fulfilling and I felt my roots strongly. We were welcomed at the airport with a big familiar smile and , thankfully, we did not have to get in the long customs line. During the visit we could eat and breathe the delicious in-season ingredients that Baja produces; from papayas, to avocados, chiles, lettuce, pineapples, limes, guanabanas, tomatoes, chard, radishes, you name it!. I just felt like a fish back in the water, especially walking along the pristine coastline. Now I’m melancholic… its hard to forget the people, the laughs, the air and the sea… and the food. From freshness, flavor, aroma, ingredients, preparations, sazones… can you imagine? Good thing we just visited one little town…Phew!

I have harnessed the melancholy and channeled it into a love letter to every Vegan and Vegetarian who has felt neglected by the Taco Love. Yes baby, not one, not two, but EIGHT vegetable fillings that will add vitamin “V” (vegetable) on any Taco night!

Some are more seasonal than others but I kept in mind vegetables that can be accessible almost all year around. I came up with these delicious and simple variations with strong MEXICAN flavors, no wimpy vegetable tacos here.

You can whip-up these recipes any day of the week, choose one, or two, or three for variety sake or just try one each day and call it the Taco week. Want to go the extra mile? try  making your homemade tortillas here recipe and tutorial.

For this post we decided no step-by-step photos are necessary. These vegetable taco filling recipes are so easy to prepare using basic chopping, seasoning, and sautéing that you can make them faster than you can say chiffonade. All fillings are Gluten free, Vegetarian and Vegan, except for one filling, but I included some vegan substitutions.

I hope you enjoy this vegetable rant of inspiration while my inner Mexican is fully inspired. Enjoy!

P.S Recipes dedicated with love to the Panda’s and their Neighbors, thank you for your friendship. Xoxo

{Lately, we have been reading, and watching many documentaries that have resonated with and influenced our way of eating and cooking. For example we watched one about food production and agriculture. We are of the opinion that its a good idea to put more effort toward cooking a vegetable main dish more than once a week. Perhaps it should be the other way around, one day of meat and the rest days of vegetables as I rant on instagram… What you think?}

Vegetable Taco Fillings, a Mexican love letter to Vegetables

1.Roasted Cauliflower in Salsa VerdeCauliflower-in-Salsa-Verde_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please!

Holly shubangwuah!, I can eat this roasted Cauliflower in salsa Verde by the spoonfuls. Cauliflower when roasted becomes sweet and nutty and all this crispy salty edges that when in combination with the tangy spicy tomatillo salsa verde the flavors just warm you up. Leave this little florets navegate in the saucy verde salsa, be generous with the salsa.

A must try. You want to have this quick recipe under your sleeve for any given day of the week. Do not limit yourself using this recipe for just the taco filling. This delicious Cauliflower in salsa Verde can be serve on a bed or rice or a side of whole buttery beans and you have a winner for dinner. Garnish with queso fresco, a dollop of yogurt freshly made tortillas…

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

½ Medium Cauliflower head separated in small florets.

12 medium Tomatillos peeled and washed.

1-2 Serrano chiles roasted until chard.

¼ white onion roasted until chard.

1 garlic clove

6-8 Cilantro sprigs

sea salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon sunflower or corn oil + more to drizzle.

In a small pot

In a small pot place 1 cup of water, tomatillos cut in halves, a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until tomatillos changed color, look olive-green, and they are smash-able. Set aside.

Pre-heat the oven at 425 F. Place cauliflower florets, chiles, and onion piece on a baking sheet lined with foil. Drizzle some oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Roast the Cauliflower for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown and some chard edges showing. When chiles and Onion are charred, pull the baking tray out of the oven. In a blender add the cooked tomatillos strained, ¼ cup of water in which the tomatillos where cooked, charred onion, chiles, fresh cilantro, raw garlic, and few healthy pinches of sea salt. Blend until pureed.

In a skillet add 1 tablespoon sunflower oil or corn oil bring to heat, and carefully add the green sauce until bubbly, cook for 5-7 minutes. At this point add the roasted cauliflower florets, toss well, adjust for salt and its ready to serve!

2. Cremini Mushrooms Ajillo – GuajilloCremini Mushrooms Ajillo-Guajillo_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please! copy copy

Mexico has a great variety of mushrooms and various preparations can be found. Often they are cooked in simple manners to make them shine. Like inside quesadillas, soups, or quick sautéed with herbs. My take on this mushrooms, a little butter, garlic and a hint of chile guajillo wich it adds a very settle flavor, not spicy at all but a punch of color and flavor to the sautéed creminis. I will highly recommend this mushrooms on top of queso fundido, quesadillas a bowl of buttery beans or with a sunny side up egg for breakfast. Honestly once you try these mushrooms you will be making a double batch next time…

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

16oz. Cremini Mushrooms sliced

2 dry Guajillo peppers

1 teaspoon ancho chili powder

5 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 tablespoons sunflower oil-corn oil

3 tablespoons of butter (for vegans, use coconut oil)

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Using Kitchen scissors cut the guajillo across and into small thin rings. Discard seeds and steam.

Bring a cast iron skillet to a medium high heat. Warm oil, place the guajillo rings and sauté for 2-3 minutes until they are crispy. Remove promptly from skillet into a paper towel. By now the oil color in the skillet looks bright orange. Add the sliced mushrooms, sea salt and black pepper. Saute for 5-6 minutes until mushrooms start sweating and some of them have little golden crisp edges, add one more drizzle of oil if needed. Once the mushrooms start looking cooked, add garlic, butter and 12 pinches of salt. Saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the crispy Trujillo rings back into the skillet. Saute briefly until well incorporated. Remove from skillet and its ready to serve.

If you are on a spicier mode use a Pasilla, Ancho or Cascabel chile to bring out the heat. Or a dollop of this Mucha Muchacha Salsa.

3. Sweet Potato and Pineapple Pastor Sweet Potato and Pineapple Pastor_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please! copy copy

Ok hands down my favorite Vegan-Pastor. These Sweet potatoes Pastor are the bomb.

Spicy Pastor adobo and the sweetness in the potatoes are a match made in heaven. The orangey color even helps to make them more visually appealing. The Pineapple is a must on this recipe, plan accordingly. Vegetarians, vegans and Meat lovers are gonna love this one.

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

2 Medium sweet potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into one inch batonnets

¼ cup white onion diced

2 chile chipotles en adobo

1 teaspoon anatto powder or achiote paste

½ tablespoon ancho chili powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon Mexican dry oregano

¼ teaspoon cumin powder

1 bay leaf

½ teaspoon brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

½ cup Fresh Pineapple

2 tablespoons Corn or Sunflower Oil.

On a blender, immersion blender, molcajete or mortar, combine until pureed the chipotles, achiote, ancho chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, cumin powder, bay leaf, brown sugar, salt and vinegar. On a bowl combine the sweet potatoes and this chili pastor paste. Let marinate for at least 30 min. Best overnight.

Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high heat, add the oil until ripples, add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the marinated Sweet potatoes. Cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and they have a crusty golden char exterior. To achieve this crusty potatoes is best not to shake them to often, to allow them to get a crust. Make sure there is enough oil so they don’t scorch before they are tender and cooked, you can add another drizzle. Sweet potatoes should be a little aldente. Remove from skillet transfer to a bowl. Then add Pineapple slivers or little squares into the skillet and sauté for a few minutes. Add sweet potatoes back to the skillet and toss. Transfer to a platter and you are ready to make the tacos. I will recommend this tomatillo avocado salsa verde, it is part of other recipe look for it its amazing!..and of course a squeeze of lime… mmm..

4. Poblano and Sweet Corn RajasPoblano and Sweet Corn Rajas_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please!

This Poblano Corn and crema filling is very traditional and often used as filling for sopes, huaraches and tacos. Traditionally this recipe is made with white corn, to be honest if you can get fresh white corn for this recipe it will be fantastic. Living in the States, well you make some concessions and adjust to the best ingredients you can find. I used sweet yellow corn for this recipe and I think the sweetness of the yellow corn balances really well with the smokey and sometimes unexpectedly spicy roasted poblanos. Add an extra pinch of salt and you have one of the most scrumptious taco fillings. Check for Vegan substitutions at the end of the recipe.

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

2 ear of corn kernels

2 chiles poblanos, roasted or charred, skinned, deveined removed seeds and cut into long stripes. See this method

½ medium white onion

1 garlic clove minced

¼ -1/3 cup crema oaxaquena, mexican crema or heavy cream as last resource*

1 splash of milk.

1 Tablespoon Corn or Sunflower oil

1 tablespoon butter

Salt and Pepper to taste.

On a skillet over a medium heat, warm up oil and sauté the onions, until translucent. Add the corn Kernels, season with salt and pepper and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add the strips of poblano, and toss well. Add the crema, and a little splash of milk. Adjust salt and pepper, toss well. And bring to slow simmer. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a platter and they are ready to serve!

Vegan Substitutions: unsweetened coconut cream, or ½ coconut ½ tahini paste.

 

5. Kale a la Mexicana

Kale a la Mexicana_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please!

The easiest way to Mexicanize your vegetables is the tri-color ingredient, basic mexican recaudo, white onion, chile serrano and tomatoes. This recaudo is usually the base for scrambled eggs, “a la Mexicana, or other quick chicken or fajitas preparation. It is easy and a classic. Kale, Chard, Spinach, Mustard Greens, Purslane, Lambs Quarters, every green  “a la Mexicana” can be delicious.  Use different kinds of tomatoes, or kinds of fresh chiles can be a great variation.  I think is quick recipe is one of my favorite ways to prepare and incorporate kale into the Mexican Table… Breakfast?…Put an egg on it, or make a taco with a scrambled eggs concoction. What you think?

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

½ medium yellow onion

1 Serrano small diced or thinly slices

3 cups Lacinato kale chopped into thin ribbons

½ cup cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Heat a cast iron skillet, over a medium high heat. Add oil and diced onions, quick sauté until translucent edges. Add Serrano, salt and pepper. Quick toss. Add Kale and vinegar, toss quickly and sauté until kale begins to welt. Add cherry tomatoes toss quickly until they warm up. Taste for salt and pepper, adjust seasoning if necessary. Transfer to a bowl or platter serve immediately.

6. Chipotle Soy Picadillo Chipotle Soy Picadillo_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please! copy copy

Picadillo is a typical homemade dish. One pot wonder, the original dish uses a combination of ground meat, lots of vegetables, sometimes you can find sweet picadillos for chiles en nogada, or like this version wich is the homestyle spicy chipotle version. I decided to use texturized soy wich is often used in vegetarian Mexican cooking. The brands I prefer, Bob Red’s Mill or Now Foods are my favorites they are organic and texture and taste is great. Yo also can find this TVP at Natural groceries  on the bulk section. This Picadillo its one pot wonder a great way to incorporate vegetables into this taco situation…I hope you like it!

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

1 cup texturized soy, follow the package instrucctions to rehidrate.

½ meddium size onion finelly chopped

1 garlic clove minced

4-5 Worcestershire sauce (if vegan, add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste or a couple of sundry tomatoes, and a few more dashes of black pepper)

1 small potato small diced

1 carrot small diced

1 small mexican calabazita (light green zucchini) small diced

¼ cup peas

½ cup small diced tomatoes

2 chiles chipotles en adobo plus about 1 teaspoon of the adobo juices and purée it.

(I like “La Morena” or “San Marcos”Brand)

½ teaspoon dry Mexican oregano

1 tablespoon Corn, Sunflower oil, or extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to your taste.

On a cast iron skillet, over medium hight heat, add the oil and onions until translucent. Add the diced potatoes, salt pepper, cover with a lid until potatoes are al-dente. Add garlic saute for 1 minute. Add the texturized soy and 4-5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Saute for 5 minutes. (Make sure the texturized soy is well hydrated, and remove all water excess before cooking) At his point add the diced tomatoes, the chipotle purée, and dry oregano. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Add ¼ cup of water, carrots, zucchini, salt and pepper. Toss well. Lower the temperature, and cover with a lid for 5 minutes, until carrots are cooked but not mushy. At last, add the peas and toss, taste , adjust for salt and pepper if necessary. Turn off and cover with a lid until peas are cooked but still bright green. Serve immediately. This filling can be made in advance and it tastes even better the next day, Enjoy!

7. Nopalitos and Onions in Guajillo – Pasilla SauceNopalitos and Onions in Guajillo-Pasilla Sauce_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please! copy copy

Nopalitos Cactus plant is known to have a slimy reputation, but when you cook them right, and utilizing the right ingredients, Nopalitos are delicious. They are tangy and soft, the texture and flavor reminds me like if an ocra and a mushroom had a child. The guajillo – pasilla sauce add great flavor and contrast to the tangy nopalito flavor. Nopalitos beside being a nacional simbol on the Mexican flag, are the miracle vegetable. So many nutritious value and health elixirs attributes, you just want to start researching now!… Seriously, give these nopalitos a chance and you will love them.

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

6 Tender Nopalitos pieces, cut into small squares.

¼ medium size onion

6 sprigs of cilantro

4-5 tomatillo husks

1 chile serrano

1 teaspoon salt

½ onion diced

2 good drizzles of extra virgin olive oil, or sunflower oil.

For the sauce:

2 dry chiles pasilla

2 dry chiles guajillo

1 garlic clove

1/8 teaspoon cumin powder

½ teaspoon salt

Clean chiles and remove steams. On a small pot, place 2 cups water bring to a boil, add the chiles, simmer for 10 minutes until well hydrated, soft and plumpy. In a blender, purée the chiles, garlic, cumin, salt with about ¼-to a ½ cup of the water in wich the chiles hydrated.

Set aside. On another pot start cooking the Nopalitos. Add at least 4 cups of water, the nopalitos squares, onion, cilantro, tomatillo husks, chile serrano, salt. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to low simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Check for doneness. Nopalitos should look olive-green, and fork tender. Remove cooked onion, cilantro and serrano. Strain the nopalitos and let the heat evaporate the rest of the water in them. About 4-5 minutes. By any chance, rinse them in water. These will make them slimy.

On a skillet, warm up the oil and add the diced onion, along with the dry nopalitos. And saute for 3-4 minutes, until onions are soft. Add the Guajillo-Pasilla Sauce, toss well, add about ¼ cup of water if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium low for 4-5 minutes with lid on to avoid splatters. Turn off the nopalitos and they are ready to serve! You can sprinkle some queso fresco or cotija for a delicious accompaniment on the taco, and off course a few drops of lime juice, because what would be a taco with no lime right?…

8. Chard, Potatoes, and Shredded Carrot HashChard, Potatoes, and Shredded Carrot hash_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please! copy

This is the easiest of all the fillings. It is almost a hash. You can use spinach, purslane, kale or any type of green in season instead of the chard. Instead of potatoes you can use sweet potatoes, or zucchini. Carrots or/and yellow beets will work divine. This filling with an egg on it and a dollop of my favorite Mucha Muchacha Salsa, a match made in heaven. 

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

2-3 drizzles sunflower oil or extra virgin olive oil

1 medium wax yellow potato

1 small yellow onion diced

1 garlic clove

1-2 dry chiltepines…optional you can use pepper flakes for a less heated version.

2 carrots shredded or using one of my favorite tools  a  Julianne peeler. click here

4-5 cups Chard, cut into chiffonade

2 dashes of apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon golden raisins

Salt pepper to taste

Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for garnish

On a cast iron skillet warm up the oil, saute potatoes and season with salt and pepper until potatoes are crispy. At this point add the onions , garlic and dry chiltepines crushed. (crush the chiltepines on a napkin. Avoid using your fingers directly to prevent chili burns.) Add the Juliane carrots, toss well saute for 1 minute. Add the Chard, raisins, apple cider vinegar salt and pepper. Toss well and briefly about 2 minutes. Just when the chard starts to welt, remove from heat and taste for salt ad pepper adjust if needed. Serve immediately, garnish tacos with pepitas, queso fresco or a dollop of greek yogurt.   Enjoy!

Make a Taco Tuesday…Wednesday, Thursday… Weekends…

Have fun and Let’s eat MORE VEGETABLES!!!

Music Pairing: A su Merced el Mercado- Liliana Felipe

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