Mex Xmas Drinks


Baby it’s cold outside ♪  Then let’s have some ponche & champurrado! Take a look at these vids about warm drinks that are traditionally enjoyed during Christmas =)

I’ve heard Champurrado described as  mix between hot chocolate & porridge. The drink is thickened with cornstarch/cornflour.  Champurrado comes in many flavors, &  can be seen during Xmas time served with tamales =) During “Posadas” = Xmas processions/parties, “Ponche Navideño” (Christmas Punch) a warm drink brewed with a blend of fruits is given to guest.  The basic punch recipe contains: Guava, Cinnamon, Hibiscus flower, tamarind, cane, Tejocotes (hawthorn).  For both the champurrado & ponche pilloncillo are used which is cone shaped Mexican dark brown sugar.


Mexican Food: Machacado con Huevo


It’s that time again! Time for some delicious Mexican gastronomy!  Today’s dish is  know as  “Machacado con Huevo”, “Machaca con Huevo”, or simply “Machaca” = Eggs & Mash/ shredded with eggs. Pronounced something like  : mah-chah-kah-doh-kohn-oo-eh-boh.  The verb “Machacar” means to mash/grind.

This is a typical dish from Monterrey &  is “said to have originated in the town of Ciénega de Flores, about an hour north of MonterreyMexico.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machacado_con_huevo

This yummy & easy recipe makes use of  eggs & cured, dried meat. In other words beef jerky, but not the kind you buy at the 7 eleven, the one you buy at the butcher shop.  Although, hmm who knows?  Maybe if you’re  in a bind the 7eleven jerky could work?  lol  Maybe not =S   The original dish, traditionally would call for beef jerky, since people in the olden days use to swear by cured meats due to the convenience and shelf life.  Variations do exist , some use shredded beef instead.  I’ve seen my mom make this with “carne seca” (meaning dehydrated meat) she’s brought home from Mex,  meat like this: http://www.vtdviaje.com.mx/vtd/images/stories/Nuevo_Leon/Gusto_Gourmet_Nuevo_Leon/carne-seca.jpg & shredded beef, so both ways.

In the first video they have a pre-machado mix, which I had never seen, actually…  But in the end it’s up to what’s to your liking & or convenience  =) You can look for “carne seca”  in packages in your local Mexican, Latin American Supermarket.  Like this for example: http://loscorrales.net/products.htm This is just me, but I think the dish is neatest when you can start  with whole pieces of “carne seca” from the butcher shop.

 

*Notice how the first recipe adds a tomato sauce, but in the  succedent recipes the tomatoes are diced and added. See there are many variations, just learn the basics and make the recipe your own.

This chef notes that, the dish is typically eaten with flour tortillas, but is equally tasty with corn tortillas.

Mexican Food : The treat known as Amaranto


Amaranto is a traditional Mexican candy also know as “Alegría” (happiness, joy, cheer).  A treat who’s ingredients &  manufacturing process have a long standing  history. The candy’s main ingredient is the intensely nutritious grain knows as amaranth, it is so nutritious than it surpass both rice & wheat. Amaranth was a staple food of the Aztecs.  Alegría candy bars contain : nuts, pepitas(pumpkin seeds), rasins, & the amaranth grain  which are “glued” together with pilloncillo(a type of unrefined sugar that usually comes in cones, known to some as “Mexican brown sugar”)

MORE INFO :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pepita

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panela

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amaranth

Mexicans synonymous with beans to you? You need to learn about Nopales my friend.


There are those who will automatically connect Mexicans with beans some so much so as to venture to stereotype.  The truth unbeknownst to them however,  there is a Mexican diet staple which far surpasses beans when it comes to being emblematic and symbolic. The nopal is a true symbol of our people.  Depicted in artwork,  named in songs , and referenced in sayings.  For example: when a person tries to deny their Mexican heritage they are greeted with the following saying  “Luego,  luego se te ve el nopalote” which would translate to something like “Oh please you might as well have a big o’l  cactus plant growing out of your head, because there’s no denying you’re 100% Mexican.”

But why does the  nopal hold such a notable position in our culture? Although it does play a big role when it comes to : Mexican  diet, agriculture, traditions, and the economy the most  important reason is yet another.  The nopal is  important  because of  it’s role in Mexico’s history. It is forever linked to our people through being  part of our folklore &  mythology.  Mexico’s legendary founding is a tale of how the heavens guided the Aztects to their future kingdom Tenochtitlan by sending them in search of a cactus plant with an eagled pearched on top eating a snake. The tale which  is what is depreciated on our flag.

TORTILLAS MADE OUT OF NOPALES :http://store.nopaltilla.com/

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WHAT’S A NOPAL ?

Nopales (from the Nahuatl word nōpalli for the pads, or nostle, from the Nahuatl word nōchtli for the fruit) are a vegetable made from the young cladophyll (pad) segments of prickly pear, carefully peeled to remove the spines. These fleshy pads are flat and about hand-sized. They can be purple or green. They are particularly common in their native Mexico, where the plant is eaten commonly and regularly forms part of a variety of Mexican cuisine dishes. Farmed nopales are most often of the species Opuntia ficus-indica, although the pads of almost all Opuntia species are edible.

Nopales are generally sold fresh in Mexico. In more recent years bottled, or canned versions are available mostly for export. Less often dried versions are available. Used to prepare nopalitos, they have a light, slightly tart flavor, like green beans, and a crisp, mucilaginous texture. In most recipes the mucilaginous liquid they contain is included in the cooking. They are at their most tender and juicy in the spring.[1]

Though Nopales are most commonly used in Mexican cuisine in dishes such as huevos con nopales (eggs with nopal), “carne con nopales” (meat with nopal), “tacos de nopales”, or simply on their own or in salads with Panela Cheese. Nopales have also grown to be an important ingredient in New Mexican cuisine.[2]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nopal

Health Benefits-

Nopales are very rich in insoluble and especially soluble dietary fiber. They are also rich in vitamins (especially vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K, but also riboflavin and vitamin B6) and minerals (especiallymagnesium, potassium, and manganese, but also iron and copper). Nopales have a high calcium content, but the nutrient is not biologically available because it is present as calcium oxalate, which is neither highly soluble nor easily absorbed through the intestinal wall.[3] Addition of nopales also reduces the glycemic effect of a mixed meal.[4] Nopales are low carbohydrate and may help in the treatment of diabetes.[5]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nopal

Nopales are a recognized in culinary circles as a gourmet ingredient.

photo credits : http://cdn0.grupos.emagister.com/imagen/flor_de_nopal_330684_t0.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3d/Nopal_cacti_in_Merced.JPG

whatscooking.us

Mexican Food: Make it HOT


When it comes to Mexican food and it’s flavors, specifically heat, it seems like I’m always hearing salsa this and salsa that.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with Salsa, it’s just that thanks to far too many stereotypes, & the lack of proper knowledge, the culinary art of salsa making has been devalued, reduce  to a very mild, & oversimplified one cheap trick pony. In reality, when it comes to heat & spicy flavors in the Mexican kitchen, the realm of  possibilities  is so vast.  Your options are so diverse, and varied that you can be at no loss when looking to turn up the taste in your dishes. With the right ingredients you can arm yourself with the ability to produce: unique, extraordinary, and super flavorful surprises. What sort of ingredients? Well, Take for example today’s spotlight food: “Chiles en Vinagre” = Chilies in Vinegar, pronounced (Chee -lehs- ehn -Bee-nah- greh). Chiles en vinagre are pickled peppers. Some use Serranos in their recipe, others use Jalapeños. The basic Chiles en Vinagre recipe actually calls for the pickling of green chilies,carrots,and onions. There are those that will add other things such as cauliflower for example, but I’m more familiar & used to the basic recipe.

So salsa gets all too often automatically associated with Mexican food, to the point that it leads to a constrained singularization. Though this is one of the first things to be mentioned when talking of Mexican cuisine,the fact  is that to some, Chiles en Vinagre are far more important. In some cases truly indispensable. There are people who claim they can not eat a proper meal without their chiles. To some this condiment is as  important as salt & pepper. Week after week this is something on my grocery list. In my house, on our dinner table there’s always been a bowl of “chiles en vinagre” present.

The spicy treat is a great addition to all kinds of food. You can sprinkle the pickled juice on almost anything, you can munch on a crunchy carrot, or bite on a spicy, juicy pepper while you enjoy your meal.  You can have “Chiles en Viangre” with : beans, eggs, on a torta(sandwhich),with tacos, along with stews, heck even with burgers or pizza… seriously the list goes on & on.  With these chilies you can add spice to an already flavorful dish or you can spruce up a simple & humble meal. The latter is the key that is at the heart of true Mexican home cooking.

Find Chiles en vinagre in your local supermarket in the international foods isle, hispanic products isle, visit your local Hispanic Super Market, or

find them online at :

http://www.mexgrocer.com/catagories-chile-peppers-sliced-jalapenos.html

http://www.mymexicanpantry.com/chili-powders.html

Food Network A la Mexicana


New show about Mexican cuisine coming soon to Food Network

For more info on the show & its chef visit:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/mexican-made-easy/index.html

Christmas in Mexico means Posadas


Posadas are a big part of a traditional Mexican Christmas. Posada  means “shelter” or “inn” in Spanish.  The posadas are  a celebration of the Nativity. The posadas  are celebrations that are what is called a “Novena” = a ninth, because it is held 9 days before “Noche Buena”.  Literally in Spanish Christmas Eve is called  “the Good Night “(Holly Night).  The posasadas consist of a reenactment of Mary & Joseph on their journey in search of shelter. Whole neighborhoods participate in posadas. As the Christmas season approaches people meet in anticipation to plan their neighborhood posadas, raise money, &  appoint the different duties.  A different neighbor will schedule a night for the Posada to be held at their home, beggining with 16th of December and ending with the 24th =Noche Buena.  Each house has a  Nativity scene.  *It is also common for posadas to be held at schools as Christmas  parties/festivals  & all teachers, school children  & their families take part in them. THE REENACTMENTS: The neighbors choosen for that night to host the posada at their house will play the inn keepers. The rest of the neighbors will be the “Peregrinos” =the Pilgrims looking for shelter.  The neighbors chosen to represent the main parts of the  Peregrinos: that is Mary & Joseph(usualy teenagers) carry statutes of Mary and Joseph on their journey. In some posadas however they will dress up and play the parts in that  manner instead. Some are so dedicated to holding a good posada that  authentic costumes and a donkey are procured for the procession. Everyone walks through the neighborhood in a choral processsion. The leader of the procession will have a candles inside of a paper lamp shade that looks like an accordion but open at the top and it is called a “Farolito” or little lantern.  Others may also have small candle sticks.  The posadas are know for their bright colors and magical twinkling lights.  Usually a neighbor who is able to play guitar will accompany the group, for those enough lucky to raised the fund or get a group to help out,  a set musicians (sometimes Mariachis) are their accompaniment. They go along singing the same simple little song at each home they stop at :

The Posada Chant (translation from http://a-magical-christmas.com )

Outside: (The Pilgrims)

In the name of heaven, I ask you for shelter
because my beloved wife can continue no longer.

Inside: (The Inn Keepers)
This is no inn, continue on your way.
I am not about to open. You may be a scoundrel.

Outside
Don’t be inhuman. Have mercy.
For the God of the heavens will reward you.

Inside
Go away, and don’t bother us
because if I get angry I will hit you.

Outside
We come exhausted all the way from Nazareth;
I am a carpenter by the name of Joseph.

Inside
I don’t care what your name is. Let me go back to sleep,
I am telling you, I am not about to open.

Outside
The queen of heaven is asking for shelter,
just for one night, dear landlord,

Inside
Well, if it is a queen who is asking?
How is it that at night, she travels so alone?

Outside
My wife is Mary, she is queen of Heaven,
and she will be mother of the Divine Word.

Inside
Are you Joseph, your wife is Mary?
Come in, pilgrims, I did not recognize you.

Outside
May God reward your great charity, good people,
and fill the heavens with happiness.

Inside
Blessed be the house that shelters this day,
the pure Virgin, the beautiful Mary!

Final Verse Upon Entering.
Enter holy pilgrims.
Pilgrims, accept this corner; Although the dwelling is poor,
I give it to you with all my heart.
Let us sing with joy, joy.
Let us reflect together, that Jesus, Joseph and Mary,
have come today to honor us. (Repeat)

After reaching the home that was chosen to hold the  posada * the home that is suppose to be the inn giving shelter, a rosary is prayed there around the Nativity scene . Last but not least, before the reenactment can be complete baby Jesus in placed in the manger in the Nativity scene. Along with the Rosary, traditional Christmas hymns are sung. After prayer the party  begins. At the party there are performances, folkloric and non there is dancing and eating and great fun and merriment. There is a piñata which is the big attraction for the children. * Piñatas originally came from Europe, but were adopted for celebrations where children are involved. There are many diffrent varieties of piñatas, but of course a star shape is popular for Xmas. Beside candies , peanuts and oranges are very popular stuffing for piñatas. While waiting for the piñata to be broken the children often sing  ♪”La piñata tine ca-ca- tine ca-ca, cahuates de a  monton” = The piñata filed with with pe-pe ,filled pe-pe, pe-nuts by the ton. ♪ Besides the piñata colorful farolitos= little paper lanterns are what help to make the posadas a colorful and festive time.

The  main event for the adults is the Ponche, a  Punch known as “Ponche con Piquete” =(punch with a sting). The punch is served  hot  & contains  seasonal winter fruits,  cinnamon sticks, &  with a shot of alcoholic spririt.

On Christmas Eve: Families attend Mass(Misa de Noche Buena) at midnight. When Mass is done, everyone reunites in the homes of  family &  friends to have dinner. For some it is traditional to reunite & celebrate at  grandparents homes. Others alternate as to who’s home will hold the Christmas dinner. *  Guest, even last minute ones are ALWAYS welcomed.  Big families reunite to spend this special night together, have a big feast, bond and give thanks for being together. FOOD: Tamales are very popular, but there are a varity of things prepared along with or instead of such a dish.  Pozole(hominy),  chilles rellenos(stuffed bell peppers)buñuelos(fried tortillas sprinkled with sugar)turkey, among many others are the fair for some who opt out of Tamales.  Each family has a different Christmas dish they prefer.

This was a city(goverment) organized posada hence the picture taking and camera crew.

People asking for posada @ a neighborhood restaurant. Posadas really are beautiful for their inclusion of whole neighborhoods.

Mexican Comfort Food: It’s definitely Caldo weather


“Oh the weather outside is frightful….”  Romantic chilly weather is upon us and our tummys and bodies are in need of warmth, love, &  comfort.  Today ,one of my absoulute favorites!  A wonderful meal for the Winter time blues.  The heart warming, soul satisfying dish that is : “Caldo de Res” = Beef Soup. I’d love to say you’ll never taste anything yummier, but then I’d be lying, because I honestly can’t decide what my favorite Mexican dish is =D   It’s all sooooooooooooo good.

This is seriously lethal , so hearty, stick to your ribs, finger licking good. A must try dish!  Caldo de Res is made with beef shank &  or ox tail,  hearty veggies. This is the way I know caldo and like “Caldo de Res”  to be:  carrots, corn, potato, and  zucchini.  That is truly authentic caldo de res  to me. Recipes will vary, according to region and family, but me personally, I’d be wary of those who try to tell you to add weird stuff like  can of diced tomatoes, cabbage, or the like. To me  that is not real caldo. Seriously that sacrilege.   But that’s just because I grew up with the a set of specific ingredients in my caldo. I actually grew up with a recipe that’s pretty universal and basic. I’ve seen it over and over in other recipes and I swear by it.  You can  research a bit and find a caldo that you’re happy with. Most recipes will  all pretty much follow the same basic caldo structure .  Last, but certainly not least: a  very, very important accoutrement.  A real hearty & satisfying caldo can not be complete without  Sopa de Arroz =Orange Rice .  Having this caldo on a chilly day or any day for that matter (* truly there is never a wrong moment for caldo) is like a big o’l comfy hug, a nice warm blanket that envelops your body,  a warm fuzzy feeling of yummy happiness.

*ALSO: You can consider it  an extra, but I seriously can’t eat my caldo with out it.  Get yourself  a lime, (NOT a lemon. Lime) sprinkle a dash of salt all over your hot bowl of caldo and squeeze on a splash of lime. Now mix your clado about so that the flavors can marry.  While you most certainly could eat this with a slice of bread, a tortilla would be a 1,000 times better.


CALDO DE RES RECIPE from Allrecipes.com

  1. Cut the meat from the beef bones into about 1/2 inch pieces, leaving some on the bones. Important to add the bones so that the stock will have flavor and good consistency.
  2. Heat a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the oil, tilting the pan to coat the bottom. Add the meat and bones, and season with salt and pepper. Cook and stir until thoroughly browned.
  3. Add 1 onion, and cook until onion is also lightly browned. This the time to add in your garlic, but be careful it doesn’t burn. Stir in broth. The liquid should cover the bones by 1/2 inch. If not, add enough water to compensate. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1 hour with the lid on loosely. If meat is not tender, continue cooking for another 10 minutes or so.
  4. Pour in the water, and return to a simmer. Add the carrot and 1/4 cup cilantro, and cook for 10 minutes, then stir in the potato, corn and zuchini. Simmer until vegetables are tender. Keep an eyes on your veggies as not all of them will cook all the way at the same time ,since some are softer than others to begin with. It helps  if you chop them up into uniform sizes, but if you are going for rustic look, make sure and check on them as you go along.  * Potatoes are prone to getting mushy and falling apart. Add whatever you think might cook faster last.
  5. LAST BUT NOT LEAST serve  some orange rice in a bowl and add  your soup , top of with salt a squeeze of lime and enjoy.

Sopa De Arroz(Orange Rice)

From LasRecetasDeLaAbulea.com

1 cup uncooked rice

3 tomatoes

medium sized piece of onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 bullion cube

Tbs of oil (olive or veggie works)

Saute the dry rice in oil over low heat for 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and saute another 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir in the stock. You can chop the garlic or leave it whole and pull it out.  You leave onion whole you can heat it a little with the rice garlic and or just leave as is.  Place the onion and tomatoes in a blender, puree and strain.  Next add 3 cups of water and the bullion (chicken stock can be substituted for the bullion and water, but this particular recipe called for bullion). After the rice has come to a boilo,cover tightly and finish cooking over your lowest heat for 30–40 minutes or until the stock is absorbed.

Mixes for the Rice and Caldo are available if you are not able to make them from scratch.

You can find it  @ www.alegrofoods.com/

P.S.  They have a sale going on , use code “xmas09” and get a 20% discount on everything in the store. Offer ends Jan 03 2010

You can find other Mexican food, products, snacks and much more at this website, including stuff that mentioned on this blog.


Quick & Easy Faux Ceviche


Ceviche is a dish that can consist of:  raw fish, shrimp, and other shellfish or sea food,   marinated/ cooked lime juice. It is very popular in coastal parts of Mexico knows for their ports and fishing industry.The marinated fish ,  is further flavored with the addition of chopped: chiles(serranos), tomatoes, avocado, onion & cilantro.  Then the mixture is served a top golden tostadas.

Now if you’ve ever tasted REAL ceviche, then you know that there is no substitute for such a rich, yet simple & refreshingly satisfying delicacy. The problem is that making Ceviche is like making sushi, you must be able to start with the absolute freshest fish due to the whole raw factor. Finding fish sometimes can be a hassle, you need it to be  fresh, cheap can and sometimes you just don’t get lucky. More often than not, we are way to put on our chef hats. During those times we are just looking for a quick yet yummy bite to eat.That’s where our “Faux Ceviche” comes in. Of course it’s no where near the real deal, but it’s an interesting concoction that taste pretty good.

PREP-

Chop your ingredients into bite size equal dices, make sure that you have enough ingredient to flavor your tuna, but  too many, so as to out number or overpower. Make sure to finely  ingredients such as onion & chile. The smaller the dices, the more even &  mellow the flavor will be. Trust me in the middle of enjoying your tostada you don’t wan’t to bite into a big ol fragrant onion piece or a spicy chunk of chile.

After your done with your ingredients, open your can of tuna & drain. * I recommend tuna in water, because this is a dish that should taste fresh & light. Tuna in oil can have a more of  deeper complex flavor, we want simple & clean. Drain your tuna & add your chopped ingredients, don’t forget your salt & pepper . Then add your lime juice & mix up evenly. Refrigerate & let sit & chill for as long as you wish, there’s no need for waiting too long since it’s cooked all the way.

* One word of caution about lime juice make sure that you add enough lime juice so that your tuna won’t be too dry & so that it will be flavorful, but taste it as you go along so it won’t become too bitter. Some people like to add cucumber to the mix, but I think that works better with fresh fish, on the other hand I’ve never tried it on tuna. If you’re intrepid enough go ahead & try.  That’s simple enough isn’t it?? Cheat your way to a cool, fun, Mexican food inspired meal.

AS ALWAYS, BUEN PROVECHO(Bon appetite, enjoy your meal.)

WHAT YOU WILL NEED*

(Amount will vary according to portions, remember you need enough to top tostadas with a moderate amount not to heavily.)

Tomatoes = any kind will do, but try going for a firm variety, we are using them raw not cooked like in spaghetti sauce or anything so a bit of firmness is ideal.

Limes= because the tuna is not raw, you will only need enough to flavor the Tuna.

Onions = Red or white will do. You just need enough to sprinkle into the mix not a whole bunch. If you are making very little, you probably won’t even use up a whole one.

Chiles= This recipe calls for Serranos.

Avocados= A good avacado will not be to green or to dark. Make sure if you squeeze it, that it is not too firm or  inversely give in too much. These are indications of a  flavorless unripe one or one that is bitter, mushy and past its prime.

Tostadas= find them in the internationals foods isle, or next to the tortillas which are sometimes in the displays at the end of isles.

Don’t forget the Cilantro!  It really is one of the ingredients that makes the dish.

ALSO VERY IMPORTANT : Don’t forget to put in a least a little dash of hot sauce.