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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Wordless Wednesday: Guaca-tacos

I posted this photo on Instagram last week as I was eating leftover guacamole in the form of tacos, also known in my household as guaca-tacos.

 

You can find my guacamole recipe here. Sometimes I like to substitute red onion for white onion (like I did here, though it’s difficult to tell from the photo). It’s a substitution I picked up from my mom since she normally makes her guacamole with red onions.

  • Do you ever eat guacamole tacos?

Salsa de tres chiles

In case you missed it last week… check out our salsa de tres chiles on the Kenmore Genius Blog – the ultimate fresh, homemade dip for your tortilla chip! Warning: you may never be able to eat crappy restaurant “salsa” ever again after tasting this stuff. You know what I’m talking about – that runny, watery, often bland mess of tomatoes, onion and jalapeños they serve at chain restaurants. You’ll have to visit the Genius Blog for the full recipe with instructions, but here’s a sneak peek of the video:

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  • Give this post a Facebook “Like” or a +1 on Google+ if you pledge to never eat bad salsa again!
Disclosure: I am compensated for my posts on the Genius Blog and provided with Kenmore small appliances to test but all my recipes and opinions, about the appliances and otherwise, are my own.

FRIJOLES CHARROS

frijoles charros

For weeks, José has been bugging me to make his Tía Carola’s frijoles charros. Outside of El Charco de Las Ranas, his favorite taquería in Mexico City, Tía Carola’s frijoles charros are the only ones he has ever raved about.

Until now.

When I asked for the recipe a few weeks ago, it felt like I was playing “teléfono descompuesto” with at least three people – where something surely gets lost every time someone relays the message on to another person. José called his sister, who called his aunt; then his sister called him back and he translated the ingredients to me. Note that he only relayed the ingredient list and not the portions. And he only got a vague set of instructions. Apparently, Tía Carola is not exactly keen on lots of details and also hasn’t made this dish in at least 10 years. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous about making this vaunted recipe with such a vague idea of what I was supposed to do.

I returned from the store with a big bag of frijoles pintos (in English: pinto beans). José argued with me that I had bought the wrong beans because they were supposed to be frijoles bayos. I knew that, but couldn’t find them at the store so I settled confidently on a hand-sifted bag of carefully chosen pinto beans. I settled the argument with a quick google search that ended in my favor, which had me secretly feeling proud on the inside that I knew frijoles pintos and frijoles bayos were not the same, but often interchangeable because of their similarities in taste, color and texture ‑ especially in this recipe.

I knew when José argued with me about the beans that he was going to be a tough customer to please. I lit one of my San Judas Tadeo candles (the patron saint of lost causes and desperate situations) and hoped for a culinary Hail Mary pass with my limited instructions and the guesswork lying ahead. I was short on time with no room for mistakes since I was making the frijoles charros for lunch on a weekday and all I had as a backup were some emergency TV dinners in the freezer. Who could have ever imagined there could be so much pressure behind a pot of beans?

As I served the frijoles charros, my stomach was in knots. Would they live up to Tía Carola’s recipe? I waited for the verdict as he savored the first spoonful…. 

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ALBÓNDIGAS EN SALSA CHIPOTLE

This past weekend I had the pleasure of speaking at the Blogalicious Weekend conference at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach in Florida. I had an absolutely incredible time and was inspired by so many of the women I met, but more on that later this week.

albóndigas

The kind folks at Kenmore hosted a pop-up kitchen at the conference and invited me several weeks ago to do a cooking demo using their kitchen. There was one challenge: I had to choose a recipe that could be made only using small appliances.

I thought for several days about what I could make with only access to a blender, a convection toaster oven, a toaster, a stand mixer, an induction pad, a food processor, a coffee maker or teakettle and a slow cooker. It was a tough decision because I really wanted to make rajas con crema, but without a sink and an oven, I didn’t think I could pull it off.

A few weekends ago, my mom was foraging through my refrigerator looking for a snack and I ended up giving her some albóndigas (meatballs) over rice. She loved them so much that she gobbled up the last of what little was left in a Tupperware from a few nights before.

The next day at 7 a.m. – a Sunday – my mom called to tell me she’d been up all night thinking about albóndigas and that she needed my recipe so she could make them herself that day. Seldom in my life has my mom, who is an amazing cook, called me for a recipe – it’s always me calling her. That’s when I decided if they were good enough for mom to call me at 7 a.m. on a Sunday and risk waking me up on the one day a week that I like to sleep in, then the Blogalicious crowd would surely love this recipe, too. If you weren’t able to see it live in Miami, check out the video below of the cooking demo from start to finish.

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Albóndigas are a simple comfort food, easy to make and even easier to eat. Some people like to make their albóndigas bigger so they can accommodate a whole egg filling on the inside. José only likes them without egg, so a few months ago I finally learned this recipe from our family friend, Esmeralda. This is her recipe, so we fondly call it albóndigas estilo Esme (or in English: meatballs, Esme-style) in our house. It’s a simple but traditional Mexican food sure to please the whole family…. 

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SOPA DE FIDEO

Sopa de fideo recipe from theothersideofthetortilla.com

I’m sharing my sopa de fideo recipe today because this tomato-broth and noodle soup is a comfort food for me–full of one specific fond memory.

Let me explain. Last summer, after more than a decade of dreaming about visiting Teotihuacan, I finally made the 40-kilometer trip northeast of Mexico City with my suegro and my cuñada. I had yearned to visit this archaeological site since I first learned about it in history books as a kid. The Aztec pyramids fascinated me and I never dreamed I’d be able to travel there, let alone make it all the way to the top of the famed Pirámide del Sol.

After what seemed like a long car ride on the highway from Mexico City (in reality, it was only about 25 miles), we finally arrived at Teotihuacan. I had worn loose clothes to be comfortable while climbing, and as it was cloudy, I decided against wearing a hat. I had also decided that I couldn’t climb to the top of the Pirámide del Sol without toting two cameras so I could have the advantage of shooting photos with two different lenses without risking getting dirt in my camera’s sensor. Sort of crazy on all accounts, right?… 

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