Saturday, March 25, 2017

Nopal Soup (Nopales Navegantes)

Nopal soup Nopales navegantes

Nopales are a favorite ingredient during Lent season, since they are so versatile that you can add them to almost any dish. Like in this soup, for example, which is called “Nopalitos Navegantes”, which roughly translates to “sailing cactus soup”. Some people make a dry version of this dish and add Pasilla pepper to the sauce; both the soup and the dry version are quite appetizing. The addition of the eggs (whole or scrambled) creates a robust meal, as you have your veggies and your protein all in one bowl!

Nopales are an important (and delicious!) ingredient of the Mexican gastronomy. There is one called “Nopal Cambray”, a small type of Nopal, with a thin paddle and with a size ranging from 8-10 centimeters. People prefer them for their tenderness, and because they render less of that viscous liquid common in Nopales. Here in the States, you can find Nopales being sold at Latin stores, and some even sell them already cleaned or even chopped in small plastic bags, just the way they are sold in some places in Mexico.

Other recipes using Nopales are Nopalitos Salad,  Grilled Nopales with melted cheese, Nopales with ground beef in a piquin sauce,  Nopales and eggs,  Nopales a la Mexicana, and Nopales Smoothie, just to mention a few of the recipes here in the blog.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Restaurant Style Red Fried Salsa

An step by step tutorial to make this delicious restaurant style salsa.
It is common to be offered a small bowl of salsa with some chips when you are seated at a Mexican restaurant. Here in the United States, some of the restaurants use canned tomatoes to make it, but using fresh tomatoes will always render the best salsa.  My mom would almost always have this salsa ready, as it can be used for many things, like the famous Huevos Rancheros, scrambled eggs with salsa, entomatadas, or to add to the many typical Mexican meals we call “antojitos”.

When we talk about salsas, the combinations are endless: they could be as simple as the raw serrano salsa, or a little more complex with more flavor like a Piquin Salsa. A few tomatoes (or tomatillos), onion, garlic, and peppers are the soul of a salsa, but not all of them are hot, spicy salsas. Sometimes, we use a salsa to add some heat to a meal, while other times it constitutes an actual part of the dish, like with the Dried Shrimp Patties in Guajillo sauce. Salsas are in our everyday life, and almost always you will find a homemade salsa at every Mexican dining table. Which brings me to this last note: we also call them “Salsas de Mesa”, or “table sauces”, since they are placed on the table when the meal is served.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Mexican Shrimp Soup - Caldo De Camarón

Mexican Shrimp Soup Recipe, step by step instructions with photos of the process.

There are a multitude of ways shrimp soup is made in Mexico, and each region can have its own recipes. In the Huasteca region, for example, there is a version where corn dough is diluted in water and added to the soup to form a slightly thick soup, called Huatape (I grew up eating it this way, as my mother is from that region of the country). Another version that is popular in the coastal area of Veracruz is prepared with a broth seasoned with dried peppers that has dried or fresh shrimps, but no vegetables.

The version most common throughout the country is the one that uses fresh shrimp (shells on or removed), carrots, potatoes, and a tomato flavored broth. As I’ve mentioned in many recipes before, nothing is written in stone, and each cook adapts the recipe to the products they have on hand in their region.

Growing up, I always thought that everyone ate their shrimp soup with corn masa, because that’s the way my mom made it, but when visiting friends and classmates at their houses (usually around lunchtime), I learned that there were other ways to prepare shrimp soup. In fact, my mother would get upset with me because, from a very young age, I liked to get myself invited to other people’s houses for lunch. She would tell me that people would think that she didn’t feed me well, or that we didn’t have food in our house! In reality, what lured me to do that was my curiosity about how other people cooked. I wanted to see why their food tasted different than my mom’s usual cooking. What spices and herbs, or techniques, did they use differently? The term “foodie” did not exist back then, so I guess I thought of myself as a very young gourmand.

I hope you enjoy this soup, the mixture of flavors is exquisite!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Piquin Pepper Salsa

Piquin Pepper Salsa Recipe

If you like spicy salsas, then this salsa recipe is for you! Piquin peppers are a small pepper, but they carry a lot of heat for their size, and are even hotter than Jalapeño peppers. Also known as Pequin, Tepin, or Bird peppers here in the States, Piquin peppers can be found in Mexico, Central America, and the southern U.S. states of Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico.

In the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, it is common to find the plant in the wild as well as in household gardens. In large cities, some people will have a large pot outside their kitchens with a plant of Piquin peppers, that way they have it handy for when they’re cooking their salsas. Some people will also eat them raw, and just go outside their kitchens to cut some to enjoy with their meals. When I'm cooking chorizo, I like to add a few of these peppers. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Mexican Beef Stew Recipe

Mexican Beef Stew (And a recap from last week’s visit!)

Mexican Beef Stew recipe
This is a paid post, all comments and the recipe are 100% mine 

This beef stew cooked with beef shank is one of my husband’s favorites. He also loves almost any dish made with this combination of tomatoes, olives, raisins and capers. In this recipe, the meat is slowly cooked until tender and then combined with a thick and rich sauce made with tomatoes & wine. This elaborate mixture of ingredients is commonly used in the southern states of Mexico to make stews using different types of meats but I prefer to use Beef Shank.

Mely Martinez Mexico in my kitchen

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Entomatadas Recipe

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Entomatadas, corn tortillas covered with tomato sauce.

This post is for my mom, a woman that always offers something to eat to visitors in her house, especially if they are friends and family. I remember when my college friends used to always want to do group assignments at my house, since they knew that my mom would feed them without even asking if they were hungry. One of her favorite dishes that she used to make for us was entomatadas, since they're so easy to make; the process is similar to making enchiladas, but covered with tomato sauce instead.
Entomatadas are well-known all throughout Mexico, and it is a wholesome meal that is loved by all the adults and children in my family. My mom usually made them for an early lunch at around 10:30 or 11:00 in the morning, about the same time we got done doing our morning chores. At home, the last part of our chores was to clean the floors, right after we got done cleaning the bathrooms, counters, and other surfaces. My mind goes back to those times back home, when I would smell the saucepan in the kitchen simmering the tomatoes for the entomatadas. It was almost like a reward for cleaning the house and getting the chores done. By noon we had clean floors, a clean kitchen, and a satisfied appetite.
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