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Mexican Food | Manolo's Food Blog
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Colour up!

I’m not sure what’s going on here but all of a sudden I have the irresistable urge to go to the casino and order chips and guacamole.

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Winner, winner, Mexican dinner!

Sunday Food Porn: Mexican Edition

guacamole sliders

guacamole sliders

Omagaw, GUACAMOLE SLIDERS! Brb, must procure ginger beer, prawns, and avocados… GET IN MY FACE NOW!

Arriba, abajo, al centro, para adentro!

(up, down, center, inside – a slightly uncouth toast to use at Cinco de Mayo)

And while you are being uncouth, how about a last minute, very tasty salsa.  This is so easy and so tasty.  Use it on the Carnitas if you are making them, on chips, on eggs the next morning (pardon me, huevos).

SIXTY-SECOND SALSA

    -1/2 small jalapeño minced
    -1/4 small red onion , peeled
    – 1small clove garlic , minced or pressed
    – 2tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves (Or one tablespoon cilantro paste)
    – 1/4teaspoon salt
    – pinch ground black pepper
    – 2teaspoons lime juice
    – One (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
    – One tablespoon Corzo Silver Tequila

*Pulse all ingredients except tomatoes and tequila in food processor until minced. Add tomatoes and pulse until roughly chopped, about two 1-second pulses. Place in bowl, pour out a small bit of juice and stir in tequila.

Salud y amor y tiempo para disfrutarlo.

Oven Carnitas for Five-O de Mayo

Well, Drinko de Mayo is coming up, an American drinking celebration commemorating a relatively minor battle in Mexican History where the Mexican Army in the Battle of Puebla in 1862 scored a surprising victory over French Forces. Widely celebrated in the United States, it is of minor note in Mexico. It is akin to St. Patrick’s Day, where those of Mexican Heritage in the United States can celebrate their roots. However, it is also a good reason to hoist a glass and for the rest of us to pretend we are Mexican, or at least un poco Mexican. It is also a good time to dig in to some great Mexican food, such as –

This is a very easy and great recipe for Carnitas. Instead of having to slow roast the pork for hours and hours, this recipe takes very little work. It takes time, 2-1/2 to 3 hours start to finish, but mostly that is just having things in the oven. So, whip this up and impress your friends. It has a great pork taste and makes wonderful carnitas tacos, or really outstanding carnitas burritos. If you are going to make burritos, I highly recommend black beans rather then refried or other types.

I did, once, go to a true Mexican Carnitas roast where they butchered the pig right there, cooked the carnitas and some other stuff for several hours while we drank beer and anything we could get our hands on. I was pretty useless for butchering a pig, but I could certainly hold my own in the drinking department. The carnitas were awesome, but this recipe is easily as good and about a thousand times easier.

Oven Carnitas

Serves 6-8 depending on garnishes and stuff.

Ingredients

*Pork Shoulder, boneless – about 4 lbs. Trim fat cap and cut into large (2-3 inch) chunks

*1 teaspoon ground cumin

*1 medium onion , peeled and quartered

*2 bay leaves

*1 teaspoon dried oregano

*2 tablespoons lime juice

*2 cups water

*1 orange , halved

* salt, pepper

Instructions

1. Put oven rack to lower-middle position and heat to 300 degrees. Combine pork, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, cumin, onion, bay leaves, oregano, lime juice, (optional ground chipotle pepper) and water in large Dutch oven (you should just barely cover meat). Squeeze orange juice and remove seeds. Put juice and spent orange halves in. Bring mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and place in oven; Cook about 2 hours turning meat once. Meat should tear easily.
2. Remove pot and turn on broiler. Strain chunky junk from pot (do not skim fat from liquid). Place pot over high heat and simmer liquid, stirring frequently, until thick and syrupy, 8 to 12 minutes..
3. Tear each piece of pork in half. Toss in reduced liquid; season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread pork in even layer on wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet or on broiler pan (meat should cover almost entire surface of rack or broiler pan). Broil 5-10 minutes per side until meat is browned and edges are very brown but not charred. Serve immediately with warm tortillas and garnishes.

Suggested garnishes are shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, salsa fresco, lime wedges, sour cream, a good bottle of bourbon, Mexican rice, a good bottle of bourbon, guacamole, thin sliced radishes, and perhaps a good bottle of bourbon

Ummm, Ummm, Bueno!

Voodoo Tiki Tequila

A guest post by intrepid reporter/photographer Leona Shanana, covering the launch of Voodoo Tiki Tequila at the Tiki-Fabulous Waldorf Hotel in Vangroover.

Voodoo Tiki Tequila at the Waldorf Hotel

Voodoo Tiki Tequila at the Waldorf Hotel

Snazzy! It was really impossible to get a clear shot of the coloured glass inside the bottle due to refraction. No, those are not waterlogged gummi bears in there; they are little tiki gods in technicolour.

These are 3 stages of aged tequila. The bartender was mixing with the Platinum Silver; the Reposado is aged 6 mos and the Anejo one year. Massey also had another bottle secreted away under the table that was top of the line stuff – only 1000 bottles made a year, most of which get snapped up by the American market. I must have chatted up the right guy (not pictured) because I got  a taste of it! The Voodoo Tiki guys’ main point seemed to be that we haven’t had access to really good tequila in Canada up til now, except for Patron which is so costly [ed. note: and Don Julio]. So this tequila is intended to fill the niche between Patron and tequilas that are fit only to be tossed back fast and chased with salt and lemon to cut the sicky feeling. This stuff is meant to be sipped, like good scotch.

The Green Dragon is exactly like a lime margarita with no ice and really scrumptious actually; and the Private Collection 1000 bottles a year stuff I would describe as smooth drinking, sweetish and slightly smoky flavour. Gentler than scotch and it barely even tasted like tequila as we know it. It was almost viscous.

This is not a man to piss off

This is not a man to piss off

Here’s the guy who was chopping the tops off coconuts. I am kicking myself for forgetting his name. The bar must have gone through 100 coconuts. The way they worked it was, when you came in, you received your lei, green tiki shotglass and an ounce of Green Dragon, which is a blend of tequila, mandarin and lime (like a margarita with no ice). Once you had drunk that you got a coconut, and then you brought the empty coconut back and Shaun would fill it with a Diablo.

Ashlee & Anastasia, Waldorf hostesses

Ashlee & Anastasia, Waldorf hostesses

The charming hostesses/coatcheck girls, Ashlee and Anastasia. Anastasia is holding one of the green tiki god shotglasses we all got to take home (don’t worry, I grabbed you one [thanks! can you ever have enough?]). Eventually, Voodoo Tiki will market minis in bottles that shape.

mixing a Diablo at the Waldorf

mixing a Diablo at the Waldorf

Shaun (sp?) the handsome bartender, mixing a Diablo. This is Silver tequila over ice, house ginger beer (chunky!) and cassis. Really yummy! and once the bar had heated up and everyone was getting drymouthed, he switched to pineapple juice instead of ginger beer. Refreshing!

A Titch too much Voodoo Tiki tequila seems to have gotten to Mark here

a Titch Too Much Voodoo Tiki tequila seems to have gotten to Mark here

Sometimes the morning after the night before begins before you’ve managed to get home. We feel your pain, Mark.

Voodoo Tiki Tequila Shotglasses

Voodoo Tiki Tequila Shotglasses

Cheers! A little mood music, anyone?

Chipotle – 750,000 people a day can’t be wrong

Everyone wants a one pound burrito apparently, and Chipotle has the stats to prove it. Today the Denver based chain opened its 1000th store.

I was there on opening day of New York’s first Chipotle, and let me tell you it was a momentous occasion (especially for the couple of Coloradans with whom I was dining.)

And in good news for those on the other side of the pond, according to a source I spoke with this morning, Chipotle’s next stop may be Deutschland, giving this Facebook group what it’s been gagging for.

WWJE? (What would Julia Eat?) Tacos!

Last Saturday the Mr. and I hit up La Super-Rica Taqueria in beautiful (and I mean BEAUTIFUL) sunny Santa Barbara. The little taco stand, with it’s big back porch was fabled to be Julia Child’s favorite Mexican spot.

The queue is apparently often scores of people deep, but since we didn’t get there for lunch until about 4, we didn’t have to wait too long before placing our order at the counter, which is particularly fun because you get up close to watch the kitchen folks making handmade corn tortillas.

For such a wee place, there were loads of options, and it was difficult to make a decision, but I’d heard that when at Super Rica, be sure to eat loads of tortillas and go for the special tamales, so I did as told.

A deceptively simple taco de bistec — perfectly grilled meat on one of those impeccable fresh tasting tortillas. (Really it’s two tortillas, but when splitting one taco between two people, the Mr. and I each take a tortilla and half the filling and it works out just fine. Blasphemous perhaps. But just fine.)

Guacamole. Believe it or not, there are two tortillas lurking under that mountain of avocado. What initially seemed like an excess of guac quickly became a dearth of the glorious green stuff. Especially with a drizzle of one of the three complimentary salsas. Especially when scooped onto the taco de bistec.

One of the specials — a tamal de verduras. (Though I get the sense this “special” is often on the menu.) Fresh masa stuffed with chayote, corn, zucchini, potato, chili strips, and cheese. Topped with a crema sauce. This was kind of the fettuccine al fredo of the tamale world. Decadent. Comforting.

And finally my first favorite. The itty bitty tamalito de cambray.  A pint-sized tamale fit for a pint-sized taco joint, stuffed with chicken, raisins, almonds, and tomato sauce, packed into a banana leaf. Moist, a little sweet, a little savory. A little corny. I literally licked the banana leaf clean of all traces of this one.

Thanks Julia! Thanks Super Rica!

They burn the beans

Finding himself at Zabar’s late in the afternoon, his arms already laden with foodstuffs, with no time or energy left to forage further afield, Mr. Henry to his horror realized he was out of coffee. Since Mrs. Henry never touches the stuff and consequently has no appreciation of what a conundrum he was in, a cell-phone call for wifely assistance was not in order.

In his urban peregrinations, Mr. Henry regularly attempts to locate an Oren’s Daily Roast which, he maintains, has the best beans in town for an infusion method (french press) cup of coffee. Failing that, he buys wherever he finds something that looks reasonably roasted.

However, he never ever buys coffee at Zabar’s. You see – and it pains him to criticize a store so conveniently located and offering such good breads, cheeses, and smoked fish – Zabar’s burns the beans. They over-roast them until the coffee, no matter which variety, uniformly lacks the subtler aromas, becoming bitter ash. In this regard, Zabar’s resembles Starbucks and a host of other celebrated purveyors of coffee.

But then Starbucks is essentially a franchise for steamed milk. The coffee is secondary. If proof were needed for this, when coffee prices suddenly doubled some years ago, Starbuck’s did not raise their prices one whit. The cost of the coffee in a single espresso is eleven cents – and that is the cost after the roaster has imposed a quintuple mark-up.

Truth be told, Zabar’s has always been an establishment more concerned with price than with quality. This not meant to be a derogatory statement. They understand their market. As many failed restauranteurs have learned, Upper West Siders won’t pay.

At that very moment beside the coffee bags appeared a willowy blue-eyed Mexican boy straight out of “Y Tu Mama Tambien” who offered me a free sample of Jalima brand coffee from Mexico.coffee.beans.jpg

In a whisper I complained to him that I never buy coffee here because it is over-roasted. He nodded in conspiratorial assent and suggested I try Jalima H & A Gourmet bean grown in Veracruz. Medium ground and vacuum packed, the Gourmet is a marvelously rich brew with hints of citrus and chocolate, delicate and refined, perfect for the french press.

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