Brunch

Enfrijoladas

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Enfrijoladas are one of the most beloved humble dishes made out of beans in Mexico. I almost can imagine some Mexican grandma in a hurry trying to make a meal with ingredients for two that will serve four or six with the beans she had. So Bad-a-bim! …she created a sauce, in order to stretch the beans, for all to eat. Aren’t these kinds of recipes the ones that everybody loves the most?…Serendipity in the kitchen can work love spells, just like this recipe.

Imagine fresh corn tortillas smothered in a smooth velvety bean sauce that has been seasoned and tinted with dry chiles. This dish features smokey anchos and a bright flavor guajillo chiles, sauteed onions and a couple of garlic cloves, all seasoned and blended to create a light and velvety bean sauce. Enfrijoladas are the cousins of enchiladas, only lighter. This velvety sauce, has a mild spice flavor, that in combination with the earthy and creamy bean texture make the most luscious bean sauce.

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Oaxacan Frittata

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Frittatas are the best way to transform simple ingredients into a magnificent meal. It’s the goodness of pie without the crust. With their lightly crusty edges, creamy soft centers, easy comfort, and the fact that almost every ingredient can play and sing along embedded in custardy creamy eggs, frittatas are the perfect Summer companion, and this Oaxacan Frittata is the one you want this summer by your side.

This Frittata is all about the Oaxacan Jewel tomatoes I grew in my little garden. I love how the combination of custardy eggs and “Quesillo” a.k.a Oaxaca Cheese, compliment the flavor of the tomatoes with out masking them. Even when cooked, the tomatoes hold their fresh and juicy flavor. The melted strings of Oaxacan cheese along with fresh herbs and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt make this Frittata the object of my Summer affection.

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Vegetable Taco Fillings A Mexican love letter to Vegetables

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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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Black Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos

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I’ve been craving Fish Tacos. But not any kind of Fish Taco, I mean Ensenada, Baja California Mexico Fish Tacos. The real deal. These “the” original fish tacos are often imitated, and sad to say but rarely duplicated. How can something so simple in principle, can be so hard to replicate? I really believe its all in the ingredients and the particular sazon of the cook. Have you ever tried the authentic Baja tacos?… If not, please do. Tale says that the Baja tacos were created by the street stand “Tacos El Fenix” in Ensenada Baja California, Mexico. What is so special about a Baja taco? Well, let me describe it. Imagine a tempura-like battered piece of the freshest morning pacific caught white flesh flaky fish, on a Mexican corn tortilla, light mayo-crema, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, and a spoonful of spicy green or red spicy salsa and a squeeze of lime. The bite is ethereal, crunchy, tender, fresh, savory, acid, spicy your tastebuds go on ecstasy.
I have not eaten Baja Fish Tacos in almost 10 years!, would you believe that?…No?, me neither.

Recreating a craving from a memory of flavor could be a little daunting. I did not want to even attempt to relay into my 10-year taste buds memories to try to replicate these unique Baja tacos.

So I opted for a 360 degree of separation alternative recipe to tease and ease up my Fish Taco craving. I made these Black Sesame Seared Tuna Tacos. Sometimes my taste buds act in mischievous ways. On these tacos, I opted to seared Ahi Tuna steaks covered in Black sesame seeds instead of the deep frying battered fish.

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Fig Honey Kefir Tart with Pecan Date Crust

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Figs…an  inverted flower fruit, sweet, with a sexy shape. I often crave their flowery delicate sweetness and incredible texture. I remember the first time I had a fig I was at a little orchard on a “Family Sunday Comida” in a little town out side the city. My Grandpa Alfredo had a cousin with a great house, a ridiculously oversized pool, and a fruit orchard. You can imagine that for a kid this combination was heaven. I had a place to run, to swim, discover fruits, plants while the adults were too busy playing dominos, cards, laughing out loud, and macerating their happy Sunday souls in Tequila. Hehehe… no worries Mexican mothers were always around watching over us.  Moms, aunts, great-aunts were in the kitchen serving food plates, and every so often screamed at us “Be careful!, get down from that tree!, No more!, A comer!… you get the family situation.

Trino, was my Grandpa’s cousin’s name. I remember he gathered all the kids and told us we could cut every fruit we want, as long we ate it. Then he cut a handful of figs and handed one fig to each kid, whiled he explained what we needed to look for on a ripe fig; “Look for a dark purple color and a honey smell”. With that little said, we all kids had a mission, but first we tried the figs he handed us. At first I did not know what to do, how to eat it, or what to think about this strange looking black-purpled fruit, but when I decided to bite into it, my eyes opened wide and my taste buds went crazy.  After one fig bite, I wondered where have figs  been all my short life and why don’t all fruits taste like figs. Soft and warm from the sun, utterly sweet and floral, all in one cosmic bite; it made me think that the bees around the area could start chasing me if I kept eating the figs from the tree.

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Since then figs have stolen my heart. I look for them when in season, if possible. Black Mission figs are my favorite because of their flavor, texture, color and because it brings back these memories. Figs are one of the few things I like in purple. Texas has a brief fig season June-July mostly. It is August I know but I ran into these California Mission figs and I could not say no to them.

This tart is a no-bake fresh dessert. It combines all what I love in a Summer dessert; fresh fruit, something light, creamy, and cold with out being overly sweet. The crust its a combination of Pecans and Walnuts, dates cardamom and orange blossom water. A breeze to make with the help of a food processor. Despite the use of dates, this crust is just sweet enough. For the creamy component I chose Kefir Cheese and a drizzle of honey mixed into it. This makes a silky and tangy cloud for the fig slices to snuggle.  Two layers of fresh fig slices, chopped, toasted pecans, salt flakes, a drizzle of honey or Balsamic, make this irresistible. Besides it is a really good source of delicious healthy treat. Despite the figs and the dates, this little tart is made with 8-10 dates which amounts around one date per person, A good handful of nuts and good oils, and the tastiest creamy, dreamy, probiotic Kefir cheese its a must! sorry I would not dare to suggest a substitution on this one, trust me.

An incredible dessert and simple to make this Summer, this Fig Tart is truly love at first bite.

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Just make it its delicious!, for the recipe you will need….

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Sweet Corn Crab Cakes with Saffron Aioli

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This recipe has a long name but short preparation. Crab was never on Ian’s or my menu when growing up, but we really enjoy seafood: Mussels, Oysters, Razor Clams, Lobstah’, shrimp, fish… we love seafood the same way we love all food we sea.

So I decided to give it a shot, and make some crab cakes. I always liked how Seafood is prepared in Spain, simple, fresh but there is always an element of kick. Either from the freshest olive oil, a pinch of paprika, garlic, or a simple side of pimientos del padron. There’s always that good unexpected accent.

With this in mind I create today’s recipe  which combines sweet corn, orange zest, green onion action and sweet Louisiana crab with a delicious creamy saffron aioli with a garlic kick.

The first time I made these crab cakes we just fell in love with their flavor. These subtle flavors are a match made in heaven with the sweet crab. I could go on and on about them, but I think the photos will do the talking…Shhh, They taste even better than they look…
Crispy panko bread crumbs surround the outside of this cakes and a tender flaky and moist inside the crab just sings. The sweet corn kernels add great texture and sweetness. They are serve warm with a squeeze of lemon and the bright creamy saffron-garlic aioli on the side…mmmm, seriously good.

The recipe makes about 10 crab cakes if you use a standard ice cream scoop to portion them. They can also be made with a smaller size scoop and make bite size appetizers, Small to bigger crowds will love them.

If you are in a crabby mode, please consider this recipe as one of your top contenders.
Serve them along with green bib lettuce and some fresh tomatoes, these Sweet Corn Crab Cakes with saffron aioli it is all you need for a great Summer dinner. Have fun!

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Peach Sweet Corn and Halloumi Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

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This salad sums up summer in one plate. It is the kind of salad you eat and feel so happy and satisfied, sunshine on a plate. Fresh sweet corn and juicy peach season is here in Austin and I can have this salad almost every day until the last peach. If you are like me and bought two little baskets of peaches at the market, because one did not seem enough for your peachy desires, well we are in the same boat. The good thing is that extra peaches are not a problem once you get the hang of this salad.And if you still have some peaches left over, bake a pie, make this fantastic mini peaches and cream empanadas you have a good alibi for as long those peach baskets last you….

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Let me describe you this salad. Imagine the flavor of fresh sweet corn crispy yellow kernels, in combination with juicy bright sweet tangy floral peach slices, a few pieces of pan seared golden Halloumi cheese salty, crusty outside, and creamy gooey inside, over fresh arugula and greens. All come together with a delicious sweet and tangy Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette. It is ridiculously good. It is. Because yes. All the sweet, juicy tangy, salty briny, herb flavors together, one bite of these salad you are hooked!

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If you never had Halloumi, it is a firm brined cheese that when pan-fried or grilled holds it’s shape and gets crusty golden. It is a bit salty, and texture-wise along its warm its gooey on the inside, then becomes a bit chewie, a pleasent chewie. I bought it in this fantastic shop called Phoenicia Bakery and Deli here in Austin, Tx. It is a fabulous store. They carry foods from around the world but their emphasis is Mediterranean and Middle Eastern specialties. Cheeses, olives, pantry items, spices, preserves, teas, coffee, dry fruit, to mention a few. They also make the best freshly baked pitas in town. Not to mention they have a small menu for lunch, with great falafel, Gyros, Kafta and Shawarma. Dessert?… no problem from Pistachio Baklava to delicate pastries filled with pine nuts and rose water. And for me their fresh Feta cheese is the best in town, they have 3 different kinds, Bulgarian, French and sheep’s milk simply delicious. You have to go, it is a must…

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If you are not in Austin you must try to find a specialty food shop were you can buy this delicious cheese… Explore and try something new! Get your inner peach and make this glorious Peach Sweet Corn and Halloumi Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette fresh salad. Lunch, dinner or both, it travels great for a picnic on the park or to daydream about summery days at the office. All you have to do is to close your eyes and almost feel your feet on the green grass, the sun warming up your eye lids and a warm breeze asking you is it summer time yet?….Run and get peachy now! Enjoy.

For the recipe you will need…

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Peaches and Cream Empanadas

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When the rain is gone the petrichor remains anticipating a clean fresh day. A day of sunshine finally warmed up the city of Austin, and with this shiny day a reminder that it is of the end of May. Warm days ahead allure me with one peachy promise. Texas Peach season is here, now in full swing through warm August. All the recent rain equals juicy peaches. Rumor has it that it is the best crop in at least five years.

With this rumor in mind I bought a basket of peaches, which lasted us thirty seconds. After the peach binge I ran and bought more peaches to make a recipe for them. I came up with three delicious recipes. First one, road peaches: Just eat them as they are, cold or slightly warm room temperature, bite into one and your taste buds go into overdrive. A magnificent juicy, acid, sweet, floral taste, with juice running through your fingers. Advice: take lots of napkins and a little pouch with pink himalayan salt to sprinkle in every other bite…To die for.

Second recipe, a Peach, Sweet Corn, Basil and grilled Hallumi Salad which will be on the blog next week…stay tuned.
And a third recipe to say goodbye to spring: Peaches and Cream Empanadas. These little empanadas are a breeze to make. The dough its not sweet, it has no sugar, only salt. It is so easy and forgiving once you get the hang of it you’re going to want to make every fruit, vegetable, meat, poultry, cheese filling into an empanada. They cook really fast; 15-18 minutes. Forget about store bought, make the real deal. The dough can me made in advance because it keeps up to a month in the freezer, maybe a little more, but I think a month is tops so the buttery flavor is not gone.

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The filling its a combination of cooked and uncooked peaches, which give the empanada that tangy flavor with out being overly sweet…because that’s the way I like it. Combining fresh and cooked gives you the bright peach flavor closer to that fresh bite. In one bite you can taste the sweet butter and tender crumb from the dough, the creamy ricotta and the sweet, tangy juicy peaches. Cinnamon sugar dust adds that extra sandy crystal texture that just make them irresistible. Yes, that’s why they are little in size. Good things come in small packages right?… The recipe makes 12 / 3.5″- 4″ mini empanadas.

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Where to get these scrumptious peaches? If you are a Texan you know where to go, in fact share with us where is your favorite place to get peached. But if you are new in town: Road side stands are a usually in my opininon the best and most accessible way to get your peachy cravings. If you live in the Austin, Texas area or nearby check this following link to more information about visiting Fredericksburg The Texas Hill Country click here for market days, for a great peachy day.

If you want to know about other locations to buy  and for a complete guide on where to buy visit: Texas Peaches.

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