Tag Archives: Mexican

recipe goodness :: traditional tomatillo tops salsa notions

Traditional Tomatillo Tops Salsa Notions

Traditional Tomatillo Tops Salsa Notions

Each week’s trip the greenmarket feels like a treasure hunt. But despite the many visits I’ve made over the years, I’m still discovering new items that I’ve never cooked with before. This week’s experiment: tomatillos. Luckily my produce stand is manned with friends of Mexican descent, who are more than willing to share their traditional preparation secrets to create a tomatillo salsa that will top any prior notions of what makes salsa good.

First: peel thin outer skin and cook 3 minutes in boiling water until color changes to a darker green.

Side by Side Tomatillos

Side by Side Fresh and Cooked Tomatillos

Second: Toss in the tomatoes and cook for 2 more minutes. Drain. Whiz. Salsa!

Salsafied

Salsafied

Traditional Tomatillo Salsa

4 tomatillos
~2 cups mixed yellow, red and black grape tomatoes
2 stems of cilantro, washed and finely chopped
1/2-1 red chilli {depending on heat pref}
1 scallion or 1/4 medium red onion
salt to taste

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil with 4-5 inches of water
  2. Peel tomatillo and add for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for 2-3 more minutes until tender.
  3. Drain and blend thoroughly with onion, red chili and salt to taste.
  4. Mix in chopped cilantro by hand.
  5. Chill or serve immediately as a salsa or topping to fresh grilled fish.

Salsafied:
Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa
Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa 
Introducing grilled blowfish

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recipe goodness :: celebrate cinco de mayo with rancho gordo’s posole rojo!

Rancho Gordo Mexican Posole

Rancho Gordo Mexican Posole

There are more ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than with a cold corona and a basket of tortilla chips. After working with the infamous Rancho Gordo owner, Steve Sando, to put together a special Cinco de Mayo deal for the Food52 Shop, I was intrigued by his suggestion to provide people with the makings for a very traditional mexican dish called posole. Has anyone ever seen posole on their local mexican restaurant’s menu? I didn’t think so. The best way to describe it is a cross between a tortilla soup and a mexican chili — only so much better. And if you’re not yet familiar with Rancho Gordo either, get to know this quirky and awesome purveyor of heirloom beans and other specialty products that will knock your sombrero off.

Posole’s core ingredient is hominy, which are dried maize kernels that look like corn on steroids {buy Rancho’s dried  hominy, not the canned gummy stuff you’ll find at the corner bodega}. Layer in his smokey chili powder from New Mexico, fragrant oregano so special that Thomas Keller uses it at Per Se and French Laundry, some shredded chicken and broth,  a whole lot of onions and garlic and you’re on your way to a bowl of festive bueno-ness. BUENO.

There’s no reason Cinco de Mayo can’t be celebrated any day of the week. And if you’re trying this for the first time, you might as well get your hands on Rancho’s special deal for  heirloom bean and the posole goods and get stewin’. Ole!

Hominy Hominy Hominy!

Hominy Hominy Hominy! Say it three times for luck

Oregano Indigo and New Mexican Chili Powder

Oregano Indigo and New Mexican Chili Powder

Rancho Gordo Posole Rojo

Serves 8 | 6-10 hour soak time | 5 hour cook time

1.5 cups uncooked hominy (will become ~5-6 cups)

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium white onions, chopped fine
8 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup tomato paste {I used a whole 6oz can}
3 tablespoons Rancho Gordo Chili Powder {yum!}
1 tablespoon Rancho Gordo Oregano Indio {yum yum!}
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
4 cups cooked Rancho Gordo Posole {hominy}
1.5-2 lbs shredded poached chicken
salt and pepper
Garnishes: diced avocado, chopped cilantro, finely chopped onion, queso fresco, thinly sliced radishes, sour cream

  1. Sort and rise posole. Soak 6-10 hours in cold water {put it in a pot before bed and you’re good to go the next day}.
  2. Strain and in a large pot, add the soaked posole, 3-4 quarts of water, and a roughly chopped onion.
  3. Bring to a hard boil for about five minutes, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer for about 3-4 hours. Check around 2-3 hours to make sure enough liquid is still in the pot and add more if needed so pot is not dry. Posole will flower, like popcorn when it’s finished.
  4. Strain and set aside.
  5. Fill a pot large enough to fit chicken breasts in with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add chicken breasts and poach for 15-20 minutes until cooked through.
  6. Meanwhile, heat oil in 5-quart or larger pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until soft. Add tomato paste, chili powder and oregano, stirring until all ingredients are warmed through and well-mixed.
  7. Add 4 cups water, broth and posole. Freeze any extra posole leftover after roughly measuring.
  8. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer for about 30 minutes to an hour. Shred the chicken and set aside.
  9. Once the liquid has cooked down a bit, add chicken, stir and then add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Serve in individual bowls and garnish as desired.
Simmer 'til done

Simmer ’til done.

More Ways to Celebrate All Things Mexican:
Ancho Chili Margarita with Fresh Lime-Orange-Grapefruit Juice
Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa
Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa
Extra Extra! Oaxaca Revolucion de Taco

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Travel Bite: Seeking Surf, Serenity and Serious Mexican Food at Rancho Pescadaro

Rancho PescadaroI recently jetted off to Rancho Pescadaro for a Baja-beachy wedding. This is a part of Mexico I would strongly suggest everyone visit — it’s safe, it’s serene, it’s lacking in the Spring Break-scene we’ve grown accustomed to associating with Mexican getaways. At Rancho, the food doesn’t get much fresher {straight from the ocean or garden}, the cocktails don’t get much more quenching {cilantro margaritas and mezcal sours topped the list} and it’s all enjoyed al playa or poolside, with stunning mountain and ocean views in every direction and with a staff at-the-ready to make every second worth the trek. Here’s the recap…

Wed 2:05pm: find out tomorrow morning’s Dallas to Cabo leg of my flight is cancelled due to tornados is Dallas. Damn. Call AA. Told there is zero chance of getting me to Cabo for the wedding and suggest I take the refund. Wisely decline and hang-up with unhelpful agent. Crisis mode: kayak, travel agent, Spanish customer service line. Spanish customer service line wins. All three traveling friends rebooked on three different new flights. How does that equate to zero chance? Lesson in persistence.
Thurs 4:30am:  Wake-up. LGA to Houston smooth sailing. Check departure board upon arrival, see earlier connection to Cabo than booked on. Inquire at gate if I can get on and told again there is “zero chance.” Respond I have no checked bags and this changes gate agent’s heart. “Ok with a middle seat?” For this? YES! Reminder why I never check a bag. Ever. Middle seat ends up in the exit row and with no seat to my left. Me thinks my travel karma has switched courses.
Thurs 12:15pm: Arrive in Cabo 3 hours earlier than originally planned (thank you tornado?)
Thurs 12:25pm:  Almost get through customs in a blink. Written warning for the apple I had in my purse. Oops. Wonder how that will come back to haunt. Don’t mess with Mexican customs.
Thurs 12:35pm: find friend arriving from earlier flight. Jump in rental car, roll down windows, off to Rancho Pescadaro via lunch stop in Cabo. Hairy ride on mid-construction Mexican road. Half dirt, half pavement, with a lot of swerving. Roll windows up, buckle seat belt.
Thurs 3:30pm: arrive at stunningly beautiful Rancho Pescadaro. Greeted by friendliest staff who grabs our bags, takes the car keys and promptly leads us to the most important spot on the property: poolside bar. First name introductions all around. Three refreshing cocktails whipped up — first taste of the Rancho Colada. Ready for a swim.

Pescadaro Pool

Pescadaro Pool

Thurs 6:00pm: Beach-front welcome dinner. Sangria, massive bowls of homemade pico di gallo, holy moly bowl of guacamole, steak fajitas with handmade flour or corn tortillas, BEST mole I have ever had {Rancho can I get the recipe?}, caramel flan. Sundown, temperature drops, mexican blankets at the ready, fire pits ablaze, full moon rising and the sound of unruly waves crashing behind us. Welcome indeed!

Mexican Dining al Playa

Mexican Dining al Playa

Chef Buena Makes a Mean Mole

Chef Bueno Makes a Mean Mole

Fri 5am (7am NY): woke up right on body clock cue. Drank triple filtered water. Looked up at my sea blue bed netting that was more romantic decor than purposeful bug-catcher at this time of year. Rolled over and willed myself back to sleep.
Fri 7am: Wake up round two. Opened the curtains and stepped out onto my private balcony. The evening desert chill is still in the air as the sun is in its low rise. Grabbed a blanket, my book and curled up on my private outdoor lounging bed, listening to the fountain below. This is a way everyone should start everyday.
Fri 8am: Roosters are crowing in a distance field, the air is warming. Check outside my hotel room door. Complimentary breakfast has arrived. Array of sweet fruit-tasting fruit. A pot of steaming freshly-pressed Mexican coffee and a charming woven basket housing two cinnamon-sugar dusted donuts. Joy. I read, sip, nibble and, of course, snap a few shots.

Mexican Breakfast

Mexican Breakfast

Fri 8:50am: Air is inching toward hot. Birds join me on the balcony for a few pecks of leftover breakfast. Another hour of soaking myself in this morning bliss and then complimentary yoga?

Yoga Rancho Pescadaro Style

Yoga Rancho Pescadaro Style

Fri 9:30am: Sun is hot to the point that lounging on my outdoor bed involves sweat on the brow. Sunscreen crosses my mind.
Fri 10am: Time for sweat with intention. Yoga.
Fri 11:30am: Pool, poolside cocktails and fresh fish tacos. Yes, life is good.

Poolside Cilantro Margarita and Fresh Fish Tacos

Poolside Cilantro Margarita and Fresh Fish Tacos

Fri 8pm: Restaurant recommendation in Todos Santos from Chef Bueno at Rancho: Tre Galline. Translation — three hens. I was meant to eat here. An authentic touch of northern Italy found in Southern Baja. Chef Angelo greeted us with smiles and showed off every simmering pot from his kitchen — table-side! I loved this preview and asked for his recommendation. He insisted on bringing me a little bit of everything and I did not disagree with that genius plan. Grilled eggplant-wrapped cheese, sweet potato-stuffed tortellini topped with almond slivers, spinach tortellini stuffed with cream with parmesan, homemade lasagna, and to finish braised goat over grilled polenta.  Not what you would expect on beach vacation and for that I loved it.

Tre Galline

Tre Galline

Fri 9:30pm: Drinks at the Todos Santos Inn. A charming 19th-century brick B&B that should be top of your list if you’re more of a town-dweller than a beach-bum.
Saturday: Rinse. Repeat. Sunrise, breakfast, pool, then a destination wedding to remember. Sangria and popsicles chilled off the crowd before the beach-ceremony. Chilled gazpacho, ceviche and margaritas kicked off the post-nuptual celebration. And a whole roast pig with freshly caught ocean fish were delightful departures from your typical wedding filet and salmon choices.  Poolside dancing, late-night piñata-smashing and a taco and s’mores cart made this party under the Mexican moon one for the ages — and for a long 14-hour travel day back to New York.

Wedding Mexican StyleSo when you’re looking to plan that beach getaway that steers clear of jello shots or jamaican braids and guarantees your boss can’t reach you on your cell phone, consider Rancho Pescadaro in lovely Baja Sur. Only regret? Not making it to Baja Beans for “the best coffee in town.” It’s only a 5 minute drive up the road, so be sure to stop in for some java, pastries and cafe dining al fresco. Thanks to the entire staff for making this such a memorable destination getaway.

Adios Rancho

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Extra Extra! Oaxaca Revolucion de Taco

Oaxaca Taqueria Delciousness

Oaxaca Taqueria Delciousness

Everyone loves a good taco. But not everyone makes a GOOD taco. And by good I mean one that uses ingredients sourced from local, organic and sustainable sources. Oaxaca Taqueria is a recent discovery and a delightful one at that. Tucked down a small alley called Extra Place, somewhere in the vicinity of Bowery and 1st street, is a taco counter that depends on taco revolution geeks to seek out their special selections {read: no foot traffic at this hideout}. It’s authentic Mexican street food at its best.

At $6.95 for two tacos, rice and beans, the lunch special is a steal. I went with the Korean special of the day which included a topping of crunchy kimchi over the korean-spiced steak {highly recommended by my new friend behind the counter} and the braised pork carnitas with pickled onions that can be found on the regular menu. Each were topped with their own special sauce and a squeeze of refreshing lime that contributed to a drip-down-your-arms excitable experience. After alternating bites to decide which should be saved for the last, the Korean special slightly inched out its pork competitor, but it was a close battle.

The Skim: With another 60-degree February day upon us, go out scavenging for a quick authentic mexican bite. The beauty of this tucked-away taco treasure is not only the food, but the abnormal silence that you can relish in sitting at the outdoor cafe tables.

Map: 16 Extra Place {off 1st street between Bowery and 2nd Ave}
Other Locations:

Park Slope, Brooklyn: 250 Fourth Ave {Between Carrol & President}
Cobble Hill, Brooklyn: 251 Smith Street {Between Douglass & Degraw} 

Other Mexican Hideouts:
La Esquina Still Has the Taco Market Cornered
Weekend Brunch: Eat Eggs @ Edward’s

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Cinco de Mayo: A Day to Celebrate Mexican Pride {and Drink}

The Fixins' for Fresh Lime Margaritas

Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not the celebration of Mexican independence, but rather a day to celebrate Mexican pride and heritage. What better way than with a mariachi band and margarita. If you’re going all out and planning to have a party on your rooftop, then this is a recipe you definitely want to impress your guests with. Good grapefruit is still available at the store and, in my opinion, is a necessary component to a ‘rita rockin’ the citrus blend. Please oh please don’t buy the pre-made mix. If you’re going to make our Mexican compadres proud, get out your juicer and put a little squeeze into your spirits. Don’t be afraid, this is not that spicy, but the chili adds a depth to the drink that cuts through all that citrus and makes it truly tasty. By the way, did you know margarita means daisy in spanish? Doesn’t that just sound like a delightful name for a killer cocktail?

Ancho Chili Margarita with Fresh Lime-Orange-Grapefruit Juice

Recipe:
2 0z tequila
2 oz mixed juice {lime, orange, grapefruit, agave}
ice
kosher salt and lime slice for rim

What you Need {See below for proportions}:
1 Bottle Tequila Blanco {I find the white tequila is smoother}
1 Dried Ancho Chili
Raw Agave
Limes
Oranges
Grapefruits

Fresh Squeezed Lime, Orange, Grapefruit

People experiment with the proportions of tequila to lime juice all the time, so it’s just a matter of personal taste.  Since my recipe uses fresh squeezed juice and a little raw agave for sweetness, you don’t need to add any triple sec or cointreau. And because of the fresh juice, I like to make this one with a 1:1 proportion of tequila to fruit juice. Here’s what you can expect to get from all that squeezing {approximately}.

8 limes=8 ounces
4 juice oranges=8 ounces
1 grapefruit=7 ounces

Figure out how many total drinks you plan on making. You need 2 oz of tequila and 2 oz of juice for every drink, so multiply that to know how much you need in total of both. Here’s an example to figure out how much of everything you need to make 3 drinks for 4 people. Adjust to fit your crew!

  1. 2 hours before you plan to serve the margaritas, add one dried ancho chili to the bottle of tequila. Note: the longer this soaks, the less spicy it will get as the pepper actually breaks down in the tequila. If you don’t plan on using an entire bottle, you may want to pour the tequila over the pepper in a separate container and watch it turn a cool red hue!
  2. Juice all of your limes, oranges and grapefruits into a separate container. Add 1 tsp of agave for every 8oz of total fresh fruit juice.  Mix thoroughly and chill. Keep a few lime halves to run across the top of your glasses later to make the salt stick.
  3. Ready to drink? Run a leftover lime half around the rim of a chilled glass. Pour some kosher salt on a plate and dip the rim in the salt if desired. Fill the glass with ice.
  4. You can either use a cocktail shaker or just mix equal parts tequila and fresh fruit juice in a pitcher and pour over ice in each glass.
  5. Stir, sip, enjoy, repeat.

What’s A Cinco de Mayo Party Without Salsa?!:
Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa
Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa

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La Esquina Still Has the Taco Market Cornered

La Esquina Michelada

La Esquina, which means The Corner, is nestled exactly as such at the SE point of Petrosino Square where Lafayette meets Kenmare. And while it’s known for its hard-to-get-into grotto restaurant hidden beyond the “employees only” door, down the stairs and through the kitchen, you can also order their delicious Mexican food at the 24-hour taco stand or at the sidewalk cafe. It’s been awhile since I was last there, so I was pleasantly surprised to find when I ate there this week that the difficult reservation policy is still warranted.

Mexican Food, Taco, Tacos

Lump Crabmeat Tostada

It was a hot summer evening so the waiter convinced me that the Michelada would be refreshing cocktail choice. The classic Mexican beer cocktail is mixed with a housemaid chipotle puree, fresh lime and served with a salted rim. It was slightly reminiscent of a bloody mary, but not as thick or filling and was indeed refreshing. Since there was a group of us we ordered a number of things from the small plates menu to share and there were definitely a few standout favorites that were not just tacos. The Cangrejo Tostada, which featured lump crabmeat, mango and chipotle mayo on a silver dollar-sized crispy tortilla was uniquely light and sweet for typical mexican food. The Quesadilla de Huitlachoche sandwiched mexican “truffle,” roasted corn, mushrooms and queso oaxaca between two warm tortillas and was deliciously earthy and full of flavor. But above all, and proving why La Esquina successfully sells tacos three ways out of the same building, the Bistec Taquitos were a home run with grilled steak, charred onions and salsa roja generously filling a small 4-inch tortilla. We loved the tacos so much, we ordered four different kinds and a second round.

The Skim: Sure, you can find a good taco at a lot of places, but can you have your choice of where you want to eat it at the same venue? Walk-up taco stand, sit-down cafe or swanky, behind-a-bouncer brasserie are all options and with a line out the door at the taco stand it’s no wonder why people are clamoring to get into this place. Regardless of where you grab your taco seat though, you will get the same great flavors and come away a happy customer.  114 Kenmare St. (bet. Cleveland Pl. & Lafayette St.)

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