Gluten-free Brazilian cheese bread with Mexican cotija

Brazilian cheese bread is a staple at most Brazilian restaurants—especially a Brazilian steakhouse. These addictive, light and fluffy cheese rolls are called pão de queijo in Portuguese, which simply means cheese bread. They’re a popular breakfast item (similar to how Mexicans love pan dulce) or a snack.

I loved these Brazilian cheese rolls so much after having them for the first time about a decade ago that I went on a quest to try to reproduce them in my own kitchen almost immediately. I’ve been making them for years now, and what better time to share this version with you when we’re about to embark upon a summer filled with soccer matches in Brazil!

This traditional Brazilian recipe is most commonly made with Minas cheese or parmesan cheese, but I’ve given my recipe a bit of a Mexican spin by substituting cotija cheese.

Brazilian cheese bread recipe (pão de queijo) using Mexican cotija cheese | Get the recipe at theothersideofthetortilla.com… 

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Visiting a strawberry farm with the California Strawberry Commission

In March, I was invited by the California Strawberry Commission to tour a strawberry farm. This invitation came about after I recently passed through Oxnard on a road trip, where there happen to be several of strawberry farms, and I shared a photo on Instagram and Twitter, asking whether there were any farms that gave tours. The fields and roadside strawberry stands in Oxnard reminded me of Irapuato, a central Mexican town best known for its strawberry fields and the quaint roadside stands where you can get fresh fresas con crema. I’m always interested in knowing about where my food comes from, and living in California, there’s an abundance of local, fresh produce year-round.  I was excited to visit a California strawberry farm and have the chance to ask the farmers questions about where my berries come from and how they’re grown. This post is sponsored by the California Strawberry Commission, but all experiences and opinions are my own.

On this visit, I learned that nearly 90 percent of strawberries grown in the U.S. come from California, and strawberries are grown here year-round (with a peak season in March and April) due to the optimal climate, sandy coastal soil and ocean exposure. There are more than 400 strawberry farmers who grow both conventional and organic berries, and California is also the biggest grower of organic strawberries worldwide. Oxnard, where the farm we visited is located, is about 60 miles from downtown Los Angeles.

California strawberry farm visit - More on theothersideofthetortilla.com

The farm that we visited was a family farm that has been farming in Ventura County, California, for more than 110 years. Farmers Edgar and William Terry gave us a tour of their farm, a chance to taste berries fresh from the field and ask questions—even the hard ones. Although the farm we visited was not an organic strawberry farm, I learned a great deal about the methods for growing strawberries and food safety issues (both food safety practiced in the field by the people picking your berries as well as pesticides used and how they affect our health), as well as who is growing and picking my strawberries…. 

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Vegetarian Queso Fundido

This post is part of a compensated campaign from Latina Bloggers Connect and Cacique but all opinions and this recipe are my own.

Queso fundido is an easy dish that even the most inexperienced home cook can make. I share this because with the holidays approaching, menu planning can be stressful and even if you’re great in the kitchen, you may have some helping hands that are not. This vegetarian queso fundido with rajas de chile poblano (roasted poblano pepper strips) and mushrooms is super easy and can be doubled, tripled or quadrupled depending on the amount of guests you need to serve. Alongside a basket of warm tortillas—your choice whether they’re corn tortillas or flour tortillas—this appetizer dish will definitely please the crowd. Especially if you’ve got vegetarians on the guest list, you’ll want to make this veggie version of queso fundido along with my queso fundido con chorizo recipe.

vegetarian queso fundido with rajas de chile poblano and mushrooms

If you’re ambitious and have a little extra time on your hands, you can even make your own homemade chorizo. For this vegetarian queso fundido, you’ll need to know how to roast poblano chiles in advance. … 

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Paella de chorizo, pollo y coles de Bruselas {Go4Gourmet Challenge}

I love cooking challenges, so I was completely floored to be asked to participate in the Go 4 Gourmet cooking challenge with McCormick Gourmet this month! The rules were simple: They’d ship me a box of ingredients and I would create a dish that included all the ingredients. Maybe I’ve been watching too many episodes of “Chopped,” but I couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen and create something. As soon as I found out the ingredients in the box would be paprika, chorizo and chicken stock and the requirement that I needed to also add fresh Brussels sprouts, I knew exactly what to make: A paella!

The Go4Gourmet McCormick Gourmet Challenge Box

Spanish influences in Mexican cuisine mean it’s not out of the ordinary to see different kinds of paella served in Mexico. This is a sponsored post and I received some of the ingredients from McCormick and was compensated for my time and talent to develop this recipe. I’ve written about eating paella in Mexico and shared my own paella recipe here before, along with tips for making paella (from the pan to the correct rice to use, and how to steep saffron).

Although one might not think of Brussels sprouts in a paella, this recipe is a riff off of a classic paella Valenciana that has rabbit and artichokes and I replaced the rabbit with chicken thighs (just because chicken is easier to find) and substituted Brussels sprouts for the artichokes. The earthy flavor of Brussels sprouts and spicy, salty chorizo is a perfect flavor combination as well. I knew I wanted the Brussels sprouts to retain a little crispness, so I decided to roast them with a little olive oil, paprika and kosher salt before putting them into the paella. The result: Brussels sprouts that still had a bite despite being submersed in chicken broth and rice. The chorizo also provides enough salt that aside from the kosher salt you’ll use to roast the Brussels sprouts, you likely won’t feel the need to cook with more salt.

Brussels sprouts roasted with paprika, olive oil and salt for a paella

Paella with Brussels sprouts, Spanish chorizo and chicken for the Go4Gourmet challenge with McCormick Gourmet

You can participate in this and other Go 4 Gourmet challenges at Go4Gourmet.McCormick.com! New challenges are announced every two weeks through December and you can enter your own recipes to win weekly prizes!

Paella de chorizo, pollo y coles de Bruselas

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

50 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Paella de chorizo, pollo y coles de Bruselas

Earthy Brussels sprouts, spicy and salty chorizo, and chicken thighs are an excellent flavor melding for a spin on a classic paella Valenciana. This is a sponsored recipe for the Go4Gourmet challenge with McCormick Gourmet.

Ingredients

  • 5 ounces baby brussel sprouts, cleaned and halved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (for tossing and roasting the brussel sprouts)
  • 1/2 teaspoon McCormick’s paprika
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 12 threads of saffron plus 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water
  • 7 oz chicken thigh, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (for browning the chicken)
  • 4 oz sliced Palacios Spanish chorizo
  • 1 tsp garlic (crushed in a garlic press or diced)
  • 1 1/2 tsp McCormick’s paprika
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste plus 6 tablespoons water (to make a tomato paste)
  • 1 1/4 cups Spanish rice
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 sprig of rosemary

Instructions

  1. Clean and halve 5 ounces of baby brussel sprouts.
  2. In a bowl, add brussel sprouts, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon McCormick’s paprika and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Toss until coated.
  3. In a shallow casserole dish, spread brussel sprouts out and cook under your broiler for about 5 minutes or until the brussel sprouts start to brown and crisp. Remove from the broiler and set aside.
  4. While the brussel sprouts are under the broiler, steep your saffron in a small dish with 1 1/2 tablespoons of hot water. Set aside.
  5. In your paella pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sear the chicken until it browns a bit.
  6. Add the garlic and stir for about a minute.
  7. Sprinkle the paprika over the chicken. Pour the tomato puree around the edge of the pan all the way around. Let it cook for a minute or two.
  8. Add the rice and chicken stock; stir gently until the rice is completely moist. Add the saffron and the little bit of water that you steeped it in. Stir gently.
  9. Add roasted brussel sprouts to the pan, tucking them into the rice and chicken stock. The brussel sprouts should be mostly covered. Allow it to cook for a few minutes until you see the rice rise, then tuck the sprig of rosemary into the rice.
  10. Turn the heat to medium low. After about 10 minutes, tuck the pieces of sliced chorizo into the rice.
  11. Continue cooking until the rice is soft and you can hear the socarrat forming along the bottom of the pan. You’ll know the socarrat is forming when you hear a little crackling noise. (Socarrat is the yummy, crunchy sort of caramelized rice that sticks to the bottom and is the prize of the paella party.) Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t able to achieve socarrat perfection on your first try; it takes some practice to get it right.
  12. Remove from the heat at let the pan rest for a few minutes before serving.

Notes

Be sure to use baby Brussels sprouts and hard, cured Spanish chorizo.

http://theothersideofthetortilla.com/2013/10/paella-chorizo-brussels-sprouts-chicken-go4gourmet-mccormick-gourmet/

My #ILoveAvocados Live Party with Avocados From Mexico

I recently hosted a fabulous party with Avocados From Mexico and Latina Bloggers Connect at my home. This is a sponsored #ILoveAvocados LBC Live Party post. All opinions and recipes are my own.

It’s no secret that I love avocados, and even if you’ve been reading The Other Side of The Tortilla for just a short time, you’ve probably seen plenty of avocado recipes here. From eating them plain with a squeeze of lime juice and a pinch of salt to turning them into a gourmet meal, I love avocados any which way you slice them. That’s why, when I was approached to host a live party at my home with Avocados From Mexico, I jumped at the chance to share some versatile avocado recipes with some of my favorite Latina bloggers. I demonstrated four recipes using avocados (all of them vegan or vegetarian-friendly, by the way) and sent my guests home with a surprise—a jar of my freshly made salsa verde con aguacate.

iloveavocados live party with Avocados From Mexico and Latina Bloggers Connect

Here’s a sneak peek into my party with video, photos and recipes! Enjoy!… 

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Avocado paletas

This post is part of a compensated campaign in collaboration with Latina Bloggers Connect and Avocados from Mexico but my love for avocados from Mexico is 100 percent authentic and the opinions and recipe in this post are my own. This post includes affiliate links to my Amazon aStore, El Mercadito, recommending products that I used to make this recipe.

paletas de aguacate | avocado popsicles

Summer means paleta time in my house. And though we like the traditional flavors, I also like to branch out and make flavors that are considered “normal” in Mexico, but that are not as common to see in the U.S., such as avocado. A few friends have looked at me sideways when I said I was working on a popsicle recipe with avocados, but I assure you that you’ll be won over by the creamy texture and pleasantly earthy, sweet taste.

I prefer to buy avocados from Mexico because of that distinctive, earthy taste due to the fertile volcanic soil in which they’re grown. They’re packed with nutrients and are a versatile ingredient that can be used in both savory and sweet dishes—but most people don’t think of using avocados in a sweet dish. The thing I especially love about this recipe is that the light coconut milk and sweetened condensed milk (also known as lechera) don’t overpower the natural flavor so you can still taste the earthiness of the avocado…. 

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