Arroz poblano

With the cold weather and the holidays approaching, I can think of nothing but comfort food. Arroz poblano is a staple comfort food in my home during the winter months and is a filling dish that can be served as a side or even as a vegetarian meal. Because the holiday rush has already begun and my schedule is getting tight, this is a great quick recipe because I use one big cheat to cut down on prep time: ready-to-serve microwavable rice.

Arroz poblano con queso

This arroz poblano recipe also has a unique twist from the typical one you might be familiar with that has chopped poblano and yellow corn kernels mixed into white rice. In my suegra’s house they always add crema Mexicana, which is something I’ve adapted into my own version of this family favorite. My recipe uses a blended poblano crema to coat the rice and keep it moist and a thin layer of cheese both in the middle and on top…. 

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Dinner in a flash: Tostadas

Tostadas are my go-to dinner after a long day at work when I get home late and am too lazy to cook. I always have various ingredients on hand to make them, and the great thing is that you can be creative based on what you’ve got. There’s no wrong combination.

Lately, I find myself in a big rush to get home from work in time to get dinner on the table. Tostadas are one of my secret weapons because I can prepare some of the ingredients in advance so that come dinnertime, I can just throw everything together. I do all my grocery shopping on the weekend, which means I also need to take the time to prepare myself for the week and portion out lunches and dinners. I’ll often grill meat (or sometimes buy a rotisserie chicken), cut it up and store it in the refrigerator. This version pictured above is simply grilled rib eye seasoned with salt and pepper, shredded Chihuahua cheese and served with salsa verde.

Another version I like to make has a base of refried beans smeared on the tostada, pulled roasted chicken (pollo rostizado), shredded lettuce and a little avocado topped with crema Mexicana and salsa. My cuñada likes tostadas with cueritos (see a tostada de cueritos pictured here) and manitas de puerco, neither of which are on my top 10 list of favorite kinds of tostadas, but that’s what’s so great about them; there’s something for everybody. You can’t say, “I don’t like tostadas” if you haven’t tried more than one kind.

In Mexico City, I love to visit Tostadas Coyoacán in the mercado Coyoacán because everybody can get what they want and be happy. It’s inexpensive, quick and there’s a variety of choices. One person can get camarones (shrimp) and another can get pato (duck). Or they can get one of each! One of my personal favorites there is the tostada de cochinita pibil.

Here’s a list of some suggested ingredients you’ll need to make typical tostadas so you can mix and match with the ingredients you like:

  • tostadas (either store-bought, or you can make your own by cooking tortillas on a comal and then putting them in the toaster oven or under the broiler until they crisp)
  • refried beans
  • shredded lettuce
  • shredded cheese or queso fresco
  • crema Mexicana
  • meat (whatever kind you like)
  • avocado
  • tomato, diced
  • onion
  • cilantro
  • lime wedges
  • salsa

Tell me in the comments: How do you assemble a tostada?

HOW TO: Make molletes

Great for a quick, easy meal or a snack made from leftovers, molletes are very popular in Mexico. You can typically find them at any coffee shop and in many casual restaurants around the country as well. They can be eaten for any meal and you probably have all of the ingredients without knowing it!

A few notes: Day old bread is best, but you can use fresh bread just fine if you toast it well. There aren’t really exact proportions here in this guide. I typically make refried beans at the beginning of each week and just use them until they’re gone. If you don’t do the same, a small can of refried beans will do just fine here, and you’ll still have some left over. Here, I’ve used pinto beans. You can also use frijoles bayos refritos (a cousin in taste and texture to the pinto bean) or refried black beans. You can also add as much or as little cheese as you’d like; the point is that you cover the beans.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • For each serving  of two molletes, you’ll need one bolillo roll. If you don’t have those, you can substitute with a loaf of soft French bread cut into sections.
  • A little bit of butter or margarine
  • A few tablespoons of refried beans (frijoles refritos) for each piece of bread
  • Shredded cheese (I recommend: Chihuahua, Oaxaca, Monterrey Jack. Note: In Mexico, I prefer what they call manchego, which is not the same as Spanish manchego, but they don’t sell Mexican manchego in the U.S. to my knowledge.)
  • Salsa mexicana (here’s my recipe for 2 servings, which can be doubled or tripled for however many you’re feeding)

Keep reading for step-by-step photos to help you assemble your molletes.… 

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Salsa mexicana for one

I often get asked how to make pico de gallo by my non-Mexican friends and, sometimes, new readers here. If you’re a regular reader or you know me personally, you probably know where this is going. In our house, pico de gallo is not the typical fresh salsa you may be familiar with, made of tomato, onion and cilantro. Instead, pico de gallo is a snack made with jicama, red onion, cucumber, orange, serrano chile, lime juice and sprinkled with Tajín. So, if you come to my house and ask for some pico de gallo, now you know what to expect.

What a lot of people call pico de gallo, though, we call salsa mexicana. And it’s extremely easy to make! To be clear, in most places if you ask for pico de gallo, the recipe below is what you’ll get. Since I’ve been asked several times in the last week how to make this easy, fresh salsa, I decided I might as well share it here for anyone who doesn’t already know how to make it. It’s easy to assemble in a big batch because you can play with the amounts of each ingredient to taste, but it’s a little more difficult to get it right when making a very small batch for only one or two people for a single meal, so I’ve provided directions below for the portions that I use.

A note, first: The chile is optional. I always put it in my salsa mexicana, but you don’t have to if you’re averse to spicy food. Or, if you want to go kind of half-way with it, you can cut a serrano chile open, remove the seeds and veins and chop it very finely. If you do that, you may still want to use half of the suggested portion and add more to taste as you can tolerate. But if you leave it out all together, just increase the amount of cilantro to taste. You’ll still have a nice salsa and no one will know anything is missing.

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Queso fundido

How to make queso fundido with chorizo. Get more Mexican recipes at theothersideofthetortilla.com.During the winter, I love to eat warm, hearty treats. There’s something about the winter weather that makes you want to eat things that’ll stick to your ribs, right?

This past weekend, I made a very simple queso fundido that really hit the spot. Given that I just shared a recipe for homemade chorizo earlier this week, I thought it would be nice to give you another way to use that during the holidays for a quick and easy party treat.

Whether you’re hosting at home or need to bring a dish to a posada or any other type of party, this is a super simple recipe that’s sure to wow guests. To take it to go, just prepare in the crock or a casserole dish and wait until you arrive at the party to pop it under the broiler for a few minutes. Don’t forget to bring some tortillas!

RELATED RECIPE: Vegetarian queso fundido with mushrooms and poblano chiles

We like to make tacos out of this recipe, but you can absolutely also serve it dip-style with chips if you like.

Queso fundido

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: About 10 tacos

Queso fundido is a classic Mexican appetizer that can be eaten with warm tortillas or tortilla chips. You choose the mix-ins!

Ingredients

  • 4 to 5 ounces cooked chorizo
  • 14 ounces shredded Chihuahua or Quesadilla cheese
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Instructions

  1. Cook your chorizo first and set aside to drain the grease over paper towels.
  2. In a microwave-proof dish, grate the Chihuahua or Quesadilla cheese and microwave at intervals of 30 seconds until mostly melted. Stir if necessary to heat evenly.
  3. Spray a little non-stick cooking spray in a small oven-proof crock (an individual-size soup crock will hold half this recipe and is what I typically use and make a second serving). Pour the melted cheese into the crock. Add half the chorizo and fold in gently.
  4. Set your oven broiler on low and place the crock at least 6-8 inches from the flame. Heat for about 5-6 minutes or until the cheese bubbles and gets brown spots. Be sure to use a pot holder or oven mitt to remove the crock or oven-proof dish from underneath the broiler.
  5. Place the crock or dish on a trivet and serve with warm tortillas to make tacos or hearty tortilla chips if you want to serve it more as a dip.

Notes

Note: the cooking spray is completely optional; I like to use it because it helps a lot with cleanup and getting all the cheese out of the dish before it makes it to my sink.

http://theothersideofthetortilla.com/2011/12/queso-fundido/

  • What do you like in your queso fundido?

Chorizo casero

I always used to buy chorizo prepackaged or from the butcher because I thought it would be too hard to make at home. After months of wondering, I finally decided to delve in and give it a shot. The results were fantastic! Now that I know how incredibly easy it is to do on my own, I’ll think twice next time I reach for a package of chorizo in the grocery store.

A lot of people think of Spanish chorizo when they read chorizo in an ingredient list, and though Mexican chorizo is different, it’s equally delicious. Spanish chorizo is a hard sausage-like cured meat (think similar to a cured hard salami), and Mexican chorizo is a soft sausage-like meat, almost like a breakfast sausage patty if you broke it up into little bite-size pieces.

I love to use chorizo in a variety of ways: anything from breakfast dishes such as huevo con chorizo, to snacks such as queso fundido, to spicing up vegetables in dishes such as calabacitas rellenas. It’s also great as a topper to tostadas or sopes.

I used a blend of three chiles to make my chorizo slightly spicy and also some chopped onion and garlic to give it the right texture. The vinegar helps with giving the meat the signature crumble of Mexican chorizo.

Chorizo Casero | Homemade Chorizo

Chorizo Casero | Homemade Chorizo

My chorizo recipe was recommended by the New York Times Diner's Journal in December 2011.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 cups of water (for soaking the chiles)
  • 4 chile guajillo
  • 3 chile de arbol
  • 1 chile ancho
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 quarter-inch thick slice of white onion (one slice will go in food processor; other will be finely chopped)
  • 7 large garlic cloves (reserve 2 for later)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Nakano rice vinegar

Instructions

  1. Bring two cups of water to a boil and remove from heat. Tear off the chile stems and soak the chiles for at least an hour or until completely soft. When the chiles are soft, remove them from the water, drain, and discard all the water. Do not remove the seeds from the chiles.
  2. Place the chiles, oregano, salt, pepper, one quarter-inch thick slice of onion and five cloves of garlic into the food processor or blender. Run for 5-10 seconds. Add the apple cider vinegar and rice vinegar. Reseal top of food processor or blender and pulse until the mixture is a smooth paste.
  3. In a glass mixing bowl, add the ground pork and make a well in the middle of the meat. Add half of the chile mixture and gently work it into the meat. Add the second half and repeat.
  4. In the food processor add the two remaining garlic cloves and pulse a few times so that it's roughly chopped. Add to the meat and chile mixture.
  5. Finely chop the second quarter-inch thick slice of onion. Add to meat and mix well to incorporate.
  6. Transfer the chorizo to an airtight container or a plastic zippered bag and store in the refrigerator for four to six days. It needs that time to cure and for the seasoning to mellow out. If you eat it before curing it, it may taste too spicy or too salty, the garlic will be very potent and the vinegar will be strong. If you can bear to leave it alone for six days to cure, it's worth the wait.
  7. After a few days, some liquid will run off the meat, which is completely normal. You can dump it out when you notice it or you can leave it up until you're ready to cook the chorizo. Be sure to discard the liquid either way.
  8. When it's ready to be eaten, just heat a frying man over medium heat, add the chorizo and fry it up until it's crumbly and well-done. Drain over paper towels and use in your favorite dish.

Notes

You can refrigerate cooked or uncooked leftovers for a few days or freeze raw meat in an airtight container or plastic zippered bag for a few weeks.

http://theothersideofthetortilla.com/2011/12/chorizo-casera/
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