The molinillo is a traditional Mexican kitchen utensil, that has been used for centuries to make froth in hot chocolate. It is made of a single piece of wood. The top part, typically thick and round, has decorations and indentations. A number of loose, movable rings follow. Lastly a round handle that is soft and round making it easy to beat with your hands. All of the decorations, shapes and pieces are made to create the most froth possible.
Though it is not that easy to find molinillos outside of Mexico, any market in any part of Mexico will likely have not only one, but different kinds to choose from…
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We came back home exhausted, after being away for a couple weeks in Canada for a big family reunion. Though we had delicious meals, trying all sorts of Canadian fare, as soon as we walked in I was ready to make some comforting, home tasting food.
Few things taste more like home to me, than beans. In Mexico there is always, always, a simmering pot of beans cooking at some point during the week in any kitchen. As beans need to be cooked for a long time, they infuse the kitchen with a moist, earthy and cozy aroma, that remains even after the beans are ready.
Of course one can make more than a thousand things with a batch of Frijoles de Olla, or Beans from the Pot. But one of the things that are the most simple, yet comforting, asides from scooping them with corn tortillas, are Enfrijoladas.
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The uses of beans in Mexican cooking are immense. Although you can buy them already made, if you make them at home they have a much nicer flavor and you will give your kitchen an irresistible smell. You can make a lot of them and refrigerate a batch which should last in the refrigerator for about 4 to 5 days. You can freeze another batch which will last for months.
I will give you two tips, included in the recipe below, if you make them at home:
1. Don’t add the salt in the beginning or it will toughen the beans. Add it at least after an hour of cooking when the beans are already a bit soft.
2. You don’t need to soak them the night before cooking. Yes, that helps to reduce the cooking time, but it is not necessary. If you do soak them, don’t soak them more than 12 to 14 hours, because they may begin to ferment and you will finish with a Chinese rather than Mexican tasting dish.
Continue reading Beans: Frijoles de Olla or Beans from the Pot
My personal favorite bean, they are lighter in color, creamier in texture and softer than black beans. In Northern states, the pinto is the most popular bean.
In Sinaloa they cook them with onion, garlic, tomato and the serrano chile, those four ingredients that are the basis for many Mexican dishes. There is also a twist on Sinaloa beans called frijoles puercos or piggy style beans which is rather heavy, and served with bacon, chorizo, and cheese. It is delicious!!!
Continue reading Beans: Pinto Beans
The Frijoles Colados or Strained Beans, are what the Yucatecans call Frijoles de Olla that have been pureed and then seasoned by being cooked in sauteed onion. They are cooked just for a couple minutes as they season. So its like a gently seasoned and lightly thickened Bean Puree.
They are like a dish made in between the Bean Puree and the Refried Beans. If you continue to cook the Frijoles Colados, you get to a consistency of a smooth version of Refried Beans.
Continue reading Beans: Frijoles Colados or Strained Beans
The chilacas, similar to the American Anaheim, are long, thin chiles, that sometimes twist and have a shinny light green color. Their heat goes from mild to mildly hot, but they are never very spicy.
Chilacas are very meaty and are used many times as a vegetable. Most times charred, peeled, and seeded, like the Poblanos, they are used for side dishes like rajas sauteed with onions and sometimes cream and cheese. I ate this version many times in the state of Chihuahua, in the North of Mexico. They are also used for eggs, sauces, soups, casseroles and fillings, amongst other things.
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Yesterday, right after my blog turned 1 year old, I added a new category under Ingredients: Cheese.
This site is a continuous work in progress. As my husband notes, it is very time consuming, but as I always respond, it is immensely rewarding. Truth is, I can’t wait to keep on adding more. One of the things I have loved the most has been getting your requests, so please, keep them coming! Which brings me back to Mexican cheese, a topic I have gotten many requests for.
The first kind I added is the widely available Queso Fresco. A deeply white, mild, fresh, light, barely salty, gently tangy and versatile cheese that crumbles right in your mouth the moment you take a bite. Yet, it also holds its shape beautifully if you dice it or cut it
into sticks. So it lets you play with it in many ways.
Continue reading Queso Fresco: Tri-Color Salad with a Lime-Honey Vinaigrette
Queso Fresco: Tri-Color Salad with a Lime-Honey Vinaigrette
Queso Fresco, which translates to Fresh Cheese, can be found throughout Mexico with slightly different variations. It is also called Queso de Pueblo, Queso de Rancho and sometimes just Queso Blanco. In some small towns it may be found sold wrapped in banana leaves and if you are lucky, in the small baskets where they are sometimes made.
It generally comes in rounds. Though it appears to be firm and can hold its shape nicely when cut into sticks or squares, it is very soft and crumbles easily. It is used in many ways, such as a side to guacamole and salsas, crumbled on top of hundreds of antojos like tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, refried beans and even soups. I also love it diced or crumbled in salads. Possibilities are endless.
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Pureed beans are made with Frijoles de la Olla that are placed in a blender or food processor and pureed until smooth. They serve many purposes such as bases for soups and enfrijoladas. But also, they can be seasoned and turned into what the Yucatecan people call Frijoles Colados or Strained Beans.
Frijoles Colados are pureed beans that are seasoned by being cooked and thickened a bit over sauteed onion. If you keep on cooking the Frijoles Colados about 15 minutes more, you get to to have a smooth version of the Refried Beans.
Continue reading Beans: Basic Pureed Beans
The showcase of last week’s class was one of Mexico’s most famous and delicious moles, the Poblano, which originated in the kitchen of the Convent of Santa Rosa, in Puebla. After seeing how much guests enjoyed it, I can’t wait to share it with you.
I know, the word Mole sounds exciting to eat yet intimidating to prepare. As the root of the word describes, from the náhuatl mulli, Mole is a thick sauce or paste made by grinding ingredients together in a molcajete or communal mill. A food processor works as well. This sauce can be thinned out with broth or water when ready to use.
The Poblano with its long ingredients list and its laborious process, is not the best way to introduce Moles. There are some simple Moles with no more than 4 or 5 ingredients that are easier to prepare and just as tasty.
But here I am! I adore the Poblano and I know you will too…
Continue reading Mole Poblano: Yes You Can!