Ensalada Xec: Mayan Citrus and Jicama Salad

We’ve been making an extra effort to eat healthy in our house, especially since we moved across the country and have access to more local produce than ever before (hello, California citrus!). This crunchy, spicy, juicy citrus salad from the Yucatan area of Mexico is the perfect healthy snack. Ensalada xec (xec is Mayan for “mixed,” and is sometimes spelled as “xeec,” “xek” or “xe’ek” and is pronounced “shek”) is a staple dish in the region and is sometimes also made as a salsa without the jicama.

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This past weekend, I served my ensalada xec for a salad-themed Food Bloggers LA meetup and it was a big hit. I love this recipe because it keeps crunchy in the refrigerator for a few days in the event that you have leftovers. I find this dish keeps best when refrigerated in a covered glass bowl. Some recipes for ensalada xec call for ground cayenne pepper, which is perfectly fine, but I prefer to use fresh chile. Habanero is frequently used in the regional cuisine in the Yucatan, so I used it in this recipe. If your tastebuds can’t handle the heat from an habanero, you can substitute a finely chopped serrano chile or just use a dried chile powder of your choice. You could also use  Tajín (the popular Mexican chile, lime and salt seasoning) sprinkled on top if you don’t want to use fresh chiles; if you use Tajín, remember to leave the salt out of the recipe…. 

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Get my FREE Brunch With Mom recipe ebook for Mother’s Day

I’m excited to share that I’ve co-authored a bilingual recipe ebook, “Brunch With Mom,” that has 11 awesome brunch recipes for Mother’s Day by me and five other food writers. You don’t want to miss out on this cookbook full of drool-worthy photos and easy directions to make the perfect brunch!

I wrote two of the recipes in the book, which are pictured here below. If you make any of the recipes, share them on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #BrunchWithMom so we can see your masterpiece!

Trenza de huevo con chorizo | Egg and chorizo puff pastry braid

This fun and fancy variation on a traditional breakfast dish envelops the huevo con chorizo in a braided puff pastry dough to create a savory breakfast treat.

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Latte Oaxaqueño | Oaxacan Latte

This spin on a regular old cafe latte uses Mexican chocolate for an Oaxacan twist. The secret: You don’t need a fancy coffee machine to make the foam! I teach you how to do it with a glass jar, milk and the microwave. Even your kids will be able to do this one.

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My recipes and photos appear on pages 10-15 and 44-47. Get the whole ebook for FREE here (you need to create a free account to download or print it):
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Coconut milk and chia pudding (Postre de chia y coco)

Chia seeds aren’t just for aguas frescas, and today I’m sharing with you a super easy, delicious and healthy dessert recipe for coconut milk and chia pudding.

Coconut chia pudding recipe from theothersideofthetortilla.com

I love chia seeds. Not in the way that some people mean when they say they love something… I mean I really LOVE chia seeds. I consume them nearly every day of the week and they’re a great source for fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids, and even have some protein. They have been used for centuries, including by the Mayans and Aztecs. In present-day Mexico, you’re most likely to notice chia seeds floating in an agua fresca.

I know you must be thinking there can’t be that many ways to use them, but trust me when I say there are so many great things you can do! One of my favorites is to use them to make this tapioca-like pudding with coconut milk. It’s a flavorful and not-too-sweet dessert that any coconut lover will enjoy. And a few bonuses: this recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan-friendly! Once the chia seeds develop their gel and you refrigerate the jar, it will get firm and set more like a traditional pudding. If you try to eat it too soon, it won’t be the right consistency.

Coconut chia pudding recipe from theothersideofthetortilla.com… 

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Spicy ancho chile baked kale chips

I love baked kale chips, but have you seen what they charge for them in the grocery store? It’s a crime! That’s why I started making my own baked kale chips at home with a Mexican twist: Spiced with ancho chile powder. It’s just enough spice to give the kale chips a little kick, but not too spicy. Trust me when I say you’re going to want to eat them all in one sitting… and it’s OK if you do, because these chips are healthy for you!

baked_kale_chips_ancho_chile_spicy_TOSOTTThe chips are easiest to make with the flat leaf kind of kale (called dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale or lacinato kale, and called col rizada in Spanish), and you really don’t have to use that much cooking spray to coat them. I’ve been making my own kale chips for a few years and have experimented with other chile powders to make them spicier, using ground chile morita for a smoky chipotle flavor and even ground chile de árbol for a really spicy snack. Ancho chile powder is perfect for kids or anyone who doesn’t like very spicy snacks but still like a little chile flavor. I got a great deal on kale at the farmers market in Mar Vista this weekend, so I made a few batches of these spicy kale chips to snack on during the week. I hope you like them as much as I do!… 

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AGUA FRESCA: Agua de fresa y mango

Although May is National Strawberry Month, the grocery stores seem to suddenly be overflowing with ripe strawberries in the last week or so. We love strawberries in our house, but when you buy a few pounds of them at once because they’re inexpensive, what can you do with them other than eat them? Turn them into an agua fresca, of course! You want to be sure that your strawberries are red, ripe and fragrant to use them for this recipe. If they’re super sweet, you may want to decrease the amount of sugar in the simple syrup in the recipe; it’s a matter of personal taste how sweet you like the agua to be. Mango adds a sweet and summery twist to this classic agua de fresa recipe. If you don’t like mango, you can leave it out and increase the amount of strawberries by about one-third of a pound.

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A few notes about this recipe: This particular agua fresca is a little bit thicker consistency than others due to the mango flesh. You can dilute it with additional water if you like, but the consistency of the recipe written here makes it more Colima-style. You should use yellow mangoes rather than the green and magenta-colored ones (a variety called Tommy Atkins, mostly grown in Florida, and known in Spanish as petacón because of the big-bottomed shape) usually available in most grocery stores.

The yellow mangoes you’ll find in the U.S. are mostly Ataulfo mangoes and are very similar to Manila mangoes in taste and look, and both have very thin seeds, meaning you’ll get more mango flesh. (Manila are the yellow variety most commonly available in Mexico City that we’re used to eating when we’re there.) Both Ataulfo and Manila mangoes have sweet, creamy flesh that practically melts in your mouth and are not fibrous like the Tommy Atkins variety, which can be tough if not ripe or stringy due to the fibers. Ataulfo mangoes are in season from March to July; they should be yellow to yellow-orange in color with no black spots, and they’re perfectly ripe when the flesh gives a little (just like with a peach) and the skin starts to wrinkle just a bit…. 

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Alambre de la Patrona

I haven’t written much here about my favorite taquería in Chicago, La Lagartija, but have always widely recommended the place to anyone who asked me in person, on Facebook or Twitter about where to get an authentic Mexican meal in my hometown. I wasn’t exactly trying to keep it a secret, but it’s definitely a gem and I always appreciated the neighborhood charm and the way that the meseras and owners always remembered us and greeted us like family. I have so many photos stowed away of memorable meals we ate there, and it was the only place in Chicago where we’d regularly eat tacos al pastor.

But one of my favorite standby meals there, the alambre de la patrona, is both succulent and super easy to recreate at home. The owners are from Mexico City, and this dish on their menu is actually a version of a popular dish at one of our favorite taquerías in Mexico City, El Charco de las Ranas. This dish is sometimes known as alambre de chuleta and is best served with warm tortillas, but you can skip the tortillas if you like and just eat it with a fork.

alambre_de_la_patrona_tacos… 

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