Tag Archive | Mexican food

Mexican Food for a Snowstorm

I don’t know about you, but really terrible weather makes me want to eat food from warmer places, like Mexico or the Middle East/North Africa. This past weekend was no exception. Like the rest of DC (and much of the East Coast) I got snowed in by the monster storm over the weekend. So before the storm hit I made sure I had everything I needed for something tasty and sort of fusion-y Mexican empanadas. Yes, I know empanadas are a South American thing (I certainly ate a lot of them in Chile) but I decided to make a more Mexican-inspired filling for them.

Dough
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4-1/2 cup water
1-2 tablespoons wine vinegar

Dump the flour in a bowl. Mix the water and vinegar together and pour most of it in with the flour and add the butter. Mix until a ball of dough forms, adding more water as necessary. Cover and set aside while you make the filling. It should be pliable, but the vinegar will make it even more so as it sits.

Filling
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 yellow onion, diced
1/2 a yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 1/2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper
2 ounces queso blanco or queso fresco
Oil

Saute the onions and garlic in oil for a few minutes. Then add the bell pepper, then the zucchini, salt, pepper and cumin. Once all the veggies are done, stick into a bowl and mix in the crumbled queso.

filling.JPG

Assembly
Roll out the dough as thin as you can without it tearing. Use a biscuit cutter, jar or small bowl to cut out circles in the dough. Heat oil for frying in a large pan. Spoon 2 tablespoons-ish of filling into each circle. Fold it into a half-moon, sealing the edges. Stick in the pan and fry until both sides are golden brown and place on paper towels to soak up excess oil. Serve with salsa.

Mex empanadas.JPG

This was a really really tasty recipe. There was something immensely satisfying about eating it while the storm raged outside. Beyond that, I just really liked the way it tasted, although I should have added chiles. When you make it you should probably add chiles – that will only improve the recipe. I has this with Anchor’s winter wheat beer, as I really love the combo of wheat beers and Mexican-esque foods. And this was a super Californian thing of me to make, so an SF beer is only appropriate. Song of the Week: Just Like Heaven by The Cure. To be honest, there isn’t any song I was obsessed with or felt strongly about this week, so I decided to just go with a classic.

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Mexican “Pizza”

I will impulsively buy things at the grocery store, and deal with coming up with how to use them effectively much later. This week, the impulse buy was yellow squash – which I figured would be easy enough to use. I contemplated making Mexican tartlets, which I’ve made before, but then my brain began to play with the general idea. I came up with turning the tartlet concept into a sort of pizza-type thing, which I am calling Mexican pizza (although admittedly it is neither really Mexican nor pizza, ah well).

Masa Harina dough
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup masa harina
dash of salt
1/3 cup butter
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
Cold water

Measure flour, masa harina, and salt into a bowl and mix them all thoroughly. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut in the butter until there are no significant sized lumps. Mix the vinegar with 3 tablespoons of water and add the mixture, a little at a time, until the dough comes together. If you need more water, add it in small amounts. The dough should be soft and pliable, but cohesive and not sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside while you make the filling

Topping
4 ounces crumbled queso fresca
salsa
1/2 onion, sliced and quartered
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 ear corn, kernels shaved off
One medium yellow squash, sliced
1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons cumin
Olive oil

Stick the onions, garlic, and corn in a bowl. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the cumin and coat the veggies so they are all coated. Roll out the masa harina dough either into a large pizza, or two little ones. Spoon a layer of salsa over the dough, then add the squash slices. Spoon the corn-onion mixture over the squash, then add the crumbled cheese on top. Bake the pizza for 30 minutes at 375. Serve warm.

Mexican Pizza

Ok, I’ve made a lot of Mexican-fusion type recipes in my day, and all of them were good. But this was just incredibly delicious. It’s very much a summer recipe. I generally go with beer for Mexican food, a wheat beer or a Hefeweizen works best, although this recipe isn’t spicy. I’m sure if you want, you can add chopped cilantro to the pizza once you pull it out of the oven, or additional spices when you add the cumin to the onion-corn mixture. Song of the week: If I Needed Someone by the Beatles. Rubber Soul is the second-best Beatles album (Revolver is the best) and this is just such a good song. Lesser-known Beatles songs are still better than 80% of all music.

Si Se Puede! Mexican Tartlets and Labor Rights

So this is yet another slightly delayed holiday recipe posting. March 31 is Cesar Chavez Day in the great state of California – it replaced Columbus day (good riddance) as a state holiday. Cesar Chavez is a Latino labor rights organizer for farm workers who did a lot of good for CA and the Latino communities across the U.S. I want to note (I just learned this) that equal credit should be given to Dolores Huerta, the co-founder of the United Farm Workers and a badass in her own right. So in honor of Huerta and Chavez and Labor Rights in general, I decided to do another one of my Cali-Mex recipes this week. So this was an odd synthesis of a Zucchini salad from my Mexican vegetarian cooking class and a recipe from Everyday Greens cookbook.

Tartlet dough
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup masa harina
dash of salt
1/3 cup butter
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
Cold water

Measure flour, masa harina, and salt into a bowl and mix them all thoroughly. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut in the butter until there are no significant sized lumps. Mix the vinegar with 3 tablespoons of water and add the mixture, a little at a time, until the dough comes together. If you need more water, add it in small amounts. The dough should be soft and pliable, but cohesive and not sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside while you make the filling.

Filling
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1/2 ear of corn, kernels cut off
1/3 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 medium poblano pepper, chopped
1 tsp cumin (or in reality to taste)
salt and pepper
olive oil
2-3 ounces queso fresca, crumbled

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan. Add the garlic, and after a couple minutes, add the onions and poblano peppers. Once they start to soften, add the corn, zucchini, cumin, salt and pepper. Saute until everything is softened, but not so long that it turns squogy. Toss with the queso and set aside. Roll out the tartlet dough and cut out little circles from it (once again my glass ice cream bowls are used to fulfill the task of a biscuit cutter). Take each circle and stick it into a spot in a cupcake tin. No worries if its a little large and needs to squish a little, that’s totally fine. Fill each one completely with the fill. Bake at 375 for like 20 minutes or so.

mexican tartlets

Damn these were tasty. I had to exercise a great deal of discipline to save some of them for meals at work instead of gobbling them all as a meal and then snacks. I had these with Oberon Summer Ale (it’s back! and my all-time fav beer to pair with Mexican food) as a meal, but I think they would make an amazing appetizer at a party or something. The tartlet dough is awesome – I’m loving the flour-masa harina combo, and have been using it when making tostadas for a while. Song of the Week: Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter by Herman’s Hermits. I love this song for so so many reasons, but the main two are the guitar rift in the beginning (and really the guitar throughout) and the theme of being heartbroken without bitterness or recrimination. It’s an uplifting song about lost love – which is amazing. We should all strive to be that decent regarding our former lovers. Also Herman’s Hermits are incredible and tragically underrated.

Day of the Dead: Roasted Squash with Green Mole

Unlike Cinqo de Mayo, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is actually a legit Mexican holiday. Like pre-Conquista legit. Yet for some reason I’ve never really celebrated it. Maybe just because it comes right on Halloween (and Celts trump Mexicans in our Euro-centric culture). But this year I decided this would be an awesome choice for new-recipe day. After some internet research, and the sad acknowledgement that I am not skilled enough to make skull-shaped cakes, I decided to make Roasted squash with mole verde. However, I didn’t have pepitas, or more than one kind of chili and had already gone to the store, so what I made is a fairly bastardized version of mole verde. Oh well. My ancestors are Russian, so I doubt they will care.

Roasted Squash
1/2 a medium butternut squash, chopped into reasonable chunks
1-2 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp cinnamon
olive oil

Chop the butternut squash and toss with the oil and spices until thoroughly coated. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or so, until the squash is tender (as in can be easily pierced with a fork). Once its done, remove from the pan, and let cool. While that is going on, make the mole verde.

Mole Verde (sorta)
1/3 onion, minced
3-4 cloves garlic,minced
1/2 a poblano pepper, roasted and chopped
1/3-1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup vegetable broth

mole verde

Mix the onion, garlic, pepper, and cilantro in a bowl. Remember to chop everything extremely fine. In theory, you should stick it all in a food processor, but chopping is fine, provided you make everything very small. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan, and add the onion-cilantro mixture. Saute for about 5 minutes, then add the vegetable broth. Cook for another 5 minutes or so, and then add the roasted squash. Cook until the squash are heated through, then serve.

Broken up tortilla, but still delicious

On a broken-up tortilla, but still delicious

This dish is awesome. Not particularly spicy, but seriously flavorful. I’ve been making not-spicy Mexican food as of late, which is tasty, but a little peculiar. You can serve this solo, with rice, or with tortillas. I served it with home-made (yes, that’s right) tortillas which almost worked. They were a little too crumbly and fell apart, but I am still pretty freaking proud of myself. I was out of white wine (and forgot to buy tequila) so I served it with a lighter-style beer. I didn’t realize until after I’d finished making it that this meal was totally vegan. My policy is that I don’t make “vegan food” but I do make food that happens to be vegan. Song of the week: Smooth by Santana featuring Rob Thomas. Cause Santana is a guitar god (just ask Rolling Stone) and I totally love this song. And listened to it a lot while cooking. Also, fun fact, Santana is a San Franciscan.

San Francisco Fusion: Mexican Crepes

When the SF Giants won the National League Championship last Thursday (baseball, for those of you who aren’t sports fans), I knew I had to make a San Francisco-related dish. Unfortunately, the perfect dish, garlic fries, were not something I could really make in my kitchen – it wouldn’t be even close to the same. So I decided to make a recipe from Greens – as it is the definitive San Francisco vegetarian restaurant. Since I needed to make sure there was some Cali/fusion/Mexican flavor in there, I went with Masa Harina crepes filled with veggies. I actually have two fillings for the crepes, one complicated and one simple, depending on how much effort you feel like putting in. And remember, this is authentic San Francisco food, not Mexican food.

Masa Harina Crepes
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup masa harina (should be find-able at a Whole Foods, for high quality go to a Mexican market)
1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Just like a normal crepe, beat the eggs, then whisk the ingredients into the eggs one by one. Pour about 1/4-1/3 cup of batter on a small frying pan, swirling so that the batter covers the bottom of the pan. Cook, flip, finish cooking and repeat. You should get about 8 crepes from this recipe.

masa harina crepes

Simple filling
1 large tomato, chopped
grated cheddar cheese
salsa

Place the aforementioned ingredients into the crepe. Roll up and eat like a soft taco.

simple filling

Complicated Filling
1-2 cups of butternut squash, chopped into smallish chunks
1/2 a poblano pepper, roasted and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 onion, chopped
1-2 tsp cumin
2-3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
grated cheese, either cheddar or cotija

Roast the butternut squash until tender and stick in a bowl. Saute the onions and garlic in some olive oil. Add to the bowl with the sqaush, add the pepper, cumin, and cilantro and toss. Adjust the spices to your taste. Remember, you can always add more spices in, but you can’t take them out once they’ve been added. Place the filling on 1/2 of the crepe. Add grated cheese and fold over, so the crepe is a half-moon. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melty and the crepe is slightly crispy. Serve warm.

complicated filling

The verdict: Yummy! The crepes were definitely a little different, but that just made it fun. The simple filling was good, and the complicated filling was really good. It could have been spicier – it was definitely more on the savory side of things, so you could easily use more cilantro and chili peppers if you want. I liked it the way it was though … ok, so maybe a little more of a kick next time would be ideal. I used to hate cilantro with the fiery passion when I was younger though, and this was the first time I’ve given it a chance in a while. Naturally, you should serve this with a NorCal wine. White is better with Mexican spices then red – it cuts without overpowering or over-complicating things so you should go for a white wine (I consulted with my dad, he agreed). I went with the Chateau St. Jean Fume Blanc. Song of the week: Save Me San Francisco by Train. Self-explanatory.