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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 blueprints. 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”.

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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 cook them from scratch? they taste far better than from the can, period. So let’s start.

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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!

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Yankee-Mex Bison Chili

Yankee-Mex-Bison-Chili_Warm-up!_Yes,-more-please!

Probably this recipe may offend a few of our Texas cooks. Please don’t let the title of this recipe scare you away… Bare with me, you, dear Texans.

This chili with beans recipe is what results of a marriage, between a South Mexican girl and a Northern Michigan boy. My chili has to have beans. As you know we live in Texas, which I believe there must be a written law somewhere about no beans in chili. We hope we don’t get into trouble, but if we do, with all your respect, heck yeah!, I want a pot of this trouble for any given Texan winter night.

I’m using Ground Bison full of rich meaty flavor, lots of character and the right amount of fat. To complement the ground bison, I used a type of black bean called Rio Zape. They are a bit larger than black beans, meatier, creamy and with a very earthy flavor, than when cook it produces the most delicious cloudy broth. I love this bean flavor win combination with all the chili spices. A dash of Apple cider vinegar to brighten up the chili powders it’s must. Garnish with sour cream, onions, and Colby cheese. A side of freshly baked cornbread is the perfect accomplice. This Yankee-Mex chili has a great depth of flavor, from the ancho chile, a bright mild spiciness from New Mexico chili powder and a hint of lingering spice from a dash of cayenne pepper. Its well balanced flavors and the right consistency will warm up your inside out. Let’s cook!

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Mariana’s Pipian Verde

Mariana's-Pipian-Verde_Pumpkin-seeds_Yes,-more-please!

One of the most iconic and traditional Mexican dishes, Mole Poblano, gets all the fame and glory, but what about the rest of the Moles? There are at least another 7 moles from Oaxaca, imagine that is just one state… equally delicious, easier, different chiles and seeds combinations, seasonal, upon what is available in different regions and Grandmas’, Moms’, and Aunts’ taste. Each family has their own traditions, style and way to prepare them. Which one is more authentic?.. The one that is more you-er than you. I do not like to refer to a dish as authentic, I believe its more about tradition. Unless we go authenticating Grandmas, Moms and Aunts out there…unless it’s a Picasso painting.

Tradition is what a dish should reflect. The way and manner it was prepared in your family, at a place in time and history that has carry on within. That’s what resonates more with a recipe, like that yellowish piece of paper that has butter spots and crunchy edges, you can barely read from your grandmas handwriting, and that you have slightly adapted because of personal preferences but its done and evokes you memories and flavors that ground you, and hold a spot in your family history.

Mariana's-Pipian-Verde_ingredients

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Carne en su Jugo Jalisco Style

Carne-en-su-Jugo-_Jalisco-Style_Yes,-more-please!

This recipe is dear to my heart. A traditional dish from the city I was born: Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico. It brings me lots of memories from my Mom’s cooking. You see my Mom is not an avid cook; but the dishes she prepared for my brother and I when we where little, where always prepared in a delicious manner, and well seasoned with love. This is one of my Mom’s best dishes for sure.

Now, how can something so simple and humble as a combination of beans, meat, and a simple broth can be so darned good? I do not know, but once you make sense out of this combination of ingredients that seems to want to be a guisado, but is not a guisado, and wants to be a soup, but its not a soup, once you prepare it, you will understand why I like it so much.

What is not to like about thinly sliced juicy meat, flavored with a little bacon, simmering in its own juices, along with fresh cooked beans and their broth, some herbs, chile and tomatillos? The result it is far better than it reads, or than it looks. It is a loose stew. Perfect for the transitional weather, when you almost want it to be Fall or Winter but its not there yet. And of course it is a must make dish on a rainy or cold weather day. Easy to prepare, one pot situation.

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Hatch Carnitas Home Made Style

Hatch-Carnitas_Hatch-peppers_Yes,-more-please!

Hatch it all! The favorite New Mexico Chiles are back in season, and here in Austin hatch season is in full swing.

Hatch everything, I mean everything. Even the things you don’t want to Hatch they will be Hatched.

This green spicy capsicum grown in the Hatch Valley along The Rio Grande, New Mexico is irresistible. The fruity and one-note spicy chile get’s you every time. It is the kind of heat that builds up little by little and suddenly you just feel like screaming FUEGO!

This sneaky and delicious chile is the August town fever here in Austin, Texas.

With this contagious spicy Hatch fever, I thought about a new spin on a classic dish from Michoacan, “Carnitas”, Hatch Carnitas is my recipe.

Hatch-Carnitas-Roasted-Hatch-Peppers_Yes,-more-please!

Me being from Jalisco, the neighbor Michoacan state, the “carnitas” are prepared slightly different than original authentic Michoacanas. Why? Well isn’t it always like that? Different versions upon ingredients and regional. You see the authentic Carnitas are made in a huge copper pot, and if this pot comes from the coppersmithing town Santa Clara del Cobre even better! The whole pig is broken down into pieces and fry in its own fat within this large single pot. And if the pig comes from La Piedad Cabadas where the best pork is raised in Mexico, even better. Typically they are cooked outside on a wood fire, where the copper pot its triveted and set with pork lard and a huge wood paddle is used to stir the bubbling unctuous meat. Sounds like fun right?…Well not so much, when you live in the city. Honestly, you have to leave this huge production to the experts of Quiroga, Michoacan was the Carnitas were borne. If you have the chance to travel try them. They are a manjar of gods and the real deal.

Slowly but surely this Carnitas recipe traveled to the neighbor states and people adjusted the recipe to a smaller scale, fitted to a more homestyle recipe. The Copper pot gives the authentic color and flavor to the carnitas. With this in mind these recipes have been adjusted by adding different ingredients like orange juice, condensed milk, herbs and spices that mimic a little the authentic flavors. All these alternate recipes are great, in their own style.

Hatch-Carnitas_Ingredients

What I attempted with this recipe is to recreate the “Carnitas” texture and succulent juiciness without using too much fat. I used a neutral oil instead of lard. Grapeseed oil lets the flavor of the sweet pork meat shine. I used pork shoulder that I trimmed a bit to leave a leaner cut of meat, without compromising the flavor, after all, you have to remember the Carnitas origin and live some flavor. I also adapted the recipe to the flavors of the Hatch peppers. I used fired roasted hatch peppers that added a medium spicy fruity flavor, that gave the meat a great color and a sticky crusty spicy coat in combination with the sweetness from the pineapple juice. These two ingredients balanced the sweet and acidity flavor that in combination with the pork fat its the bomb. Milk and herbs as supporting cast of flavor and tenderness while it braises.

I don’t own a copper pot, but my beloved enamel cast iron red pot it’s my best accomplice. I know you are wondering why not use the slow cooker? Well, I like to be able to control the heat at any time. When you Braise on the stove like this carnitas, I cook them with a lid on for an hour and a half and then uncovered at a bit faster pace for 45 minutes or so, to obtain the best results; crusty glazed exterior and succulent moist inside. I have used the slow cooker in other attempts and the results taste more like pulled pork to me. I’m also including a Simple quick pickled vegetable that is KEY to serve along the Carnitas. This element brings them alive, an acid-spicy-sweet -crunchy and fresh component that just round up every bite. Make them its so easy and it’s a must, I could not imagine Carnitas without this pickled vegetable concoction its a classic… Slowly but surely these braised Hatch Carnitas will drive you to the moon and back, It is a great version to make at home.
Enjoy the Hatch fever!

If you want to know more about this Capsicum New Mexican Hybrid please click  here or here

For the Hatch Carnitas Recipe, you will need…

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Zucchini Goat Cheese Entomatadas

 

Zucchini-Goat-Cheese-Entomatadas_Zucchini-recipe-for-Summer_Yes,-more-please!

Entomatadas;//Adjective, En=in / tomat= from the word tomato /adas adjective termination that denotes action,”adas”
I would say that the closest translation of the word “entomatadas” or “entomatado” would be “smothered in tomato”.

These Entomatadas are the mellow cousins of the Enchiladas. They have the same concept and construction, rolled tortillas filled with infinite possibilities and covered with a sauce made with dry chiles.  The sauce used in entomatadas is made with red tomatoes, as its name suggests. Roma, or Tomboys tomatoes, or jitomate “bola” in Spanish is usually the tomatoes of choice when making this sauce, but certainly any red round meaty and juicy tomatoes, along with mild herbs and spices will work.

The basic Entomatada sauce is very mellow and showcases the best in tomatoes. In this version of mine, I rock it out a little bit by adding a single serrano, that mimics the black pepper and adds deep of flavor to the sauce. The sauce consist of boiled tomatoes, that are skinned, blended, and then sautéed with onion, garlic and fresh epazote or mint. Then its pureed for a second time to produce the most velvety and creamy tomatoey sauce. The creamy sauce contains no dairy however, which makes the sauce light and fresh. Also on the virtue of looking for a healthier, lighter version of the classic way to make entomatadas which calls for frying the tortillas, I warmed up the corn tortillas and I drizzled them with a bit of a delicious green… a grassy extra virgin olive oil! This step not only adds another layer of flavor, but also prevents soggy tortillas when the salsa is added.

Zucchini-Goat-Cheese-Entomatadas_Entomatada-Sauce-Salsa-para-entomatadas_Yes,-more-please!

 

These Entomatadas of mine are filled with sautéed zucchinis, onions, sweet corn, and goat cheese. Once I roll them up, they are smothered with the piping hot tomato sauce which warms them through. These Entomatadas are best eaten warm almost tepid temperature.
Pouring the sauce separately when making any kind of enchilada is my favorite way to make them; It avoids enchilada uni-blocks. Best of all, by using this technique on these Entomatadas, is that it makes them BAKE-FREE!!! keeping you and your house odor free when you have closed the windows to run the A/C. If you don’t understand how that works, then come further South.

Zucchini-Goat-Cheese-Entomatadas_ready-to-serve!

Entomatadas are great for entertaining. I usually have them rolled up and when its time to serve them. I pour the piping hot tomato sauce all over, drizzle of Mexican crema or in this case I use a diluted Greek yogurt and sprinkle of queso fresco to keep them on the lighter side. Take them to the table and serve on a bed of shredded fresh lettuce and avocado wedges. I’m telling you, these Zucchini Goat Cheese Entomatadas scream Summer out loud! Whether its a midweek dinner or a potluck this recipe, its a must try! I know you will like them as much as we do!…

To make this Entomatadas you will need….

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