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.

Ensalada xec: Spicy Mayan citrus salad made with orange, mandarin orange, grapefruit, jicama, lime juice, chile habanero, cilantro and sea salt. #Recipe on theothersideofthetortilla.com.

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 a habanero pepper, 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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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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Turkey stuffing, Mexican-style

Whether it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas, I’m always looking for a way to infuse Mexican ingredients into our family’s holiday traditions. I came up with this turkey stuffing recipe that’s a riff on my mom’s traditional turkey stuffing, but with a little kick from jalapeño chiles and soy chorizo (aka soyrizo).

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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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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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Wordless Wednesday: Flores de calabaza

My find of the week? This gorgeous and lush bunch of flores de calabaza (squash blossoms). They weren’t cheap… I think I paid about $4.99 for the whole bunch, but it was worth it when I sauteed them with a little butter and stuffed them into a quesadilla for breakfast a few days ago. What can I say? Sometimes I can’t resist a treat like this, even when the price isn’t quite right. I lament that I ate most of them so fast I forgot to take photos to share, but I’ll be on the lookout for more flores at the market this weekend so I can show you how else to use them.

  • What’s your favorite way to enjoy squash blossoms?
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