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September 30, 2009

I have been humbled, time and again, by how one never stops learning from other cooks in the kitchen. That has especially been the case with my cooking team at the Mexican Cultural Institute. We are all from different parts of Mexico, with our peculiar twists and spins, influences and very strong opinions, which we love to scream out loud when trying to make what we serve at each event be the best it can possibly be.Though we get a bit stressed when cooking for kitchen outsiders, we really let loose when making lunch for ourselves. We take turns and last week Julio, a former Mexican taquerí­a cook, made his albóndigas. I had been dying to try them since not only he, but his aunt Maricruz, had been raving about them for over two years. “De veras, de veritas Pati” (Maricruz said, which means really, REALLY) “he makes the most delicious albóndigas of them all.”

Continue reading Dreaming of Julio’s Albóndigas with Chipotle and Mint

August 25, 2009
Mexican-style eggs

“All I want is a hamburger, a hot dog, a Pizza, a nice big steak, some Texas style bar-b-q and a big plate of pancakes… no tacos or anything Mexican ok?” My dad said, after devouring the welcoming meal I prepared for him, which happened to be Tacos de Guisado.

Guisados are Mexican style stews, which can be ladled into warm corn tortillas. There are plenty of Fondas or small restaurants that specialize in them throughout Mexico. Since my dad loves them, I received him with three of his favorites: Chicken Tinga heavy on the chipotle, beef cooked in a green salsa with cubed potatoes and nopalitos, cactus paddles, sauteed with onion, Guajillo Chilies and corn. There were also refried beans and white rice, as they are such friendly sides to tacos.

After he made it clear that he didn’t want anything Mexican for the next three days, making me laugh so hard along the way, we set off to satisfy his cravings.

Continue reading Mexican Style Eggs: A la Papi

August 5, 2009
Paula Deen and Pati Jinich

As I delightfully accepted (jumping up and down) the invitation to come cook Mexican with Paula, I told her producer, we love her show at home. Not only does it make my boys want to jump into the kitchen but her accent completely cracks them up. That last bit made her producer burst in laughter. Patriz-z-zia, he said, her accent cracks them up?  What about yours?


Sometimes we are the last ones to notice some of our most obvious traits and talents. Growing up in Mexico I used to think I was tall, then I moved to Texas.  After years of studying to become a political analyst, here I am, cooking my life away.

A couple months after the invitation to visit Paula, guess what started to happen?  Even my little gringo boys at home started cracking up at my accent too. “Mami, you don’t say feesh, you say fish, not like bee… you know, like dish.” Oh well… I am not tall, I am not a political analyst anymore and I do have an accent.

Accents included and all, visiting Paula’s kitchen in Savannah was some of the best fun I’ve ever had. Thinking about it makes me smile so wide, my eyes barely get the chance to see what’s in front of them. She is hilarious.

This I can say: I am amazed by Paula. She is as scrumptious, funny and generous in person as she is on screen. As real as real can get, and its even better live. I don’t know that many people who enjoy food as much as Paula. She just dives into it, the whole thing, the preparing, the cooking and the savoring. So before deciding the menu, I knew the food had to be as yummy as she is. Now that’s a challenge.

Continue reading The crunchiest and tastiest tacos for Paula Deen

June 11, 2009

Some people get motion sickness when they travel. Some people get hungry. I am among the latter.

The minute I step on whatever will transport me from one place to another, my mind swims through related food memories… and I just have to eat. So since I know I will have a craving for something other than a moist, soggy, chewy and never-ever crunchy baguette from the Amtrak train, and after being so spoiled with the food from El Chepe Train, I am packing my own Torta.

Torta (according to me…): A satisfying and delicious, self contained, easy to transport, edible package filled with tasty ingredients that just love to schmooze together.

Continue reading I am packing my own Torta…

May 5, 2009

One way to add a nice rustic feel to a dish is to char, or roast, a few of the ingredients. Charring concentrates and deepens the flavor of an ingredient and brings out a subtle sweetness.

It is one of the signature cooking techniques in Mexico where, traditionally, ingredients like chiles, onion, garlic, spices, herbs, tomatillos and tomatoes are charred on comales or directly over the flame. If you don’t have a comal, or don’t want to cook directly over the burner, you can just as easily char ingredients on a grill or in a skillet.

OR, the way I find to be the easiest and fastest: in a pan under the broiler in your oven. Put the ingredients on a large sheet pan leaving plenty of space between them so they roast, not steam, and broil until they are nicely browned on one side. Carefully flip and repeat on the other side.

You want the outside to darken until almost black, and the inside cooked and transformed, but not burnt.

Below are the specific techniques for a couple of the ingredients most often charred in Mexican recipes: tomatoes and garlic.

Continue reading Charring: How to Char Ingredients

April 27, 2009

While most of us in DC have stacked our winter clothes up in the attic or inside a trunk, the truth is, it’s still a bit chilly. So today I made this mushroom soup, yet again. I should be tired of it already, since I just cooked 100 portions of it for last Friday’s cooking class at the Institute and I had tested it for weeks… But here I go.. It is just too good!

It is not your typical soup at all. It has the woody and earthy feel of the mushrooms, but their flavor is somehow enhanced by the chile de árbol. It may sound strange, since one would think that chiles mask the flavor of ingredients. But depending on how you use them, they can pronounce rather than overpower other flavors.

Continue reading A comfy soup for the still chilly nights

December 16, 2008

Cooking with Holly to make the perfect simple soup for that cold weather day.

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