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?

Cebollitas asadas en la calle

I spotted these cebollitas being prepared to grill at a street stand last year during a trip to Mexico City. I parked right near this little puesto in Colonia Juárez while running an errand and couldn’t help but stop to admire them. As the grilling season kicks into full swing here, I find myself looking at this photo over and over again despite the fact that I took it more than a year ago, so I decided to finally share it. I love cebollitas, or any grilled vegetable, really. But the kind grilled al carbón can’t be beat.

›› Learn how to prepare cebollitas with my simple recipe.

›› Pair them with a dish! My favorites are Mexican chimichurri steak, tacos de rib eye and arrachera borracha.

  • What’s inspiring your grilling season?

Chicharrón de queso

On any trip to Mexico City, I look forward to my first visit to any of my usual taquerías. Not only because I need to satiate my appetite for tacos (read: stuff myself to practically the point of no return), but also because I get an order of chicharrón de queso while I wait.

It’s a delicate, crunchy salty treat—the name basically translates to cheese cracklings.

For years, I never considered making my own chicharrón de queso. Not because I thought it was too hard, but because I don’t have a flat top griddle like the taquerías do. I thought the hot griddle was the key to the texture and the high heat was responsible for the ability to mold it; but one day I had a nagging craving that forced me to experiment and I discovered it can be done at home in an easy way that doesn’t sacrifice any of the things that you’d expect from a good chicharrón de queso…. 

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Cebollitas

I love grilling. The smell of the charcoal, the crackling sound of the fire roasting the food and the anticipation of what’s about to land on my plate. And whenever we grill in Mexico, my suegro is the king of the barbecue.

At any parrillada at la casa de mis suegros, you can count on one side dish being the same, no matter what kind of meats are chosen for the main dish – cebollitas.

This dish is so simple and easy (and almost totally impossible to mess up even if you’re not a grilling pro), it’s the single dish that most reminds me of a Sunday parrillada in Mexico.

You can add as much or as little lime juice and salsa Maggi, a Worcestershire-style seasoning sauce, as you like – it all depends on your taste buds.

Not only is this dish often served at barbecues and family gatherings, you can also often find them at little street food stands around Mexico. In fact, I’m sure I have photos of a few of them somewhere. Sounds like a future Wordless Wednesday post! (Wink, wink.)… 

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Easy Esquites

Easy, healthy esquites recipe (roasted corn, chile piquin, cotija cheese, lime juice) from theothersideofthetortilla.comThe weather is getting warmer and that can only mean one thing: an explosion of Mexican street food carts popping up on every corner in the neighborhood where I do all my grocery shopping.

Among the carts that make my mouth water the most is one from which the sweet smell of roasted corn wafts through the spring air – and through my car window enticing me to stop for a quick treat. Yep, you guessed it: esquites.

The key ingredients of this antojito are roasted corn, lime juice, salt and dried ground chile piquin. And then there are the customizations and variations on the snack that can make it so unique from place to place. Sometimes sauteed with butter or onions and epazote, it can also be topped with mayonesa or crema Mexicana. And my favorite touch: a sprinkle of queso cotija, a dry, crumbly cheese with a little bite.

It’s usually served in a Styrofoam or plastic cup on the street, but don’t let the simple presentation fool you. Serve this at a spring or summer backyard barbecue and impress your guests with this simple treat they’re sure to love. Or just make it at home as a weekend snack!

Part of the beauty of this dish is that you can make changes or adjustments to your own tastes very easily without compromising any kind of measurements or balance so long as you follow the base of the recipe by roasting the corn either with butter or by adding a little water to the corn once you’ve cut it to help create a little juice. The portions of the lime juice, chile and toppings is up to you. The end result should be a sweet, sour, salty and spicy taste in every bite…. 

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