Posts in Mexico
Mayan Margarita

Our friend brought a new liqueur into our lives this year from her recent visit to Mexico. It is a Mayan honey and anise liqueur called Xtabentun. We immediately began researching cocktail ideas and found a pretty delicious one in the Mayan Margarita. We made a few tweaks and think this version is perfectly sweet, strong, and sour.

Mayan Margarita

Mayan Margarita

1 ½ ounces tequila blanco
½ ounce xtabentun (honey liqueur)
¼ ounce cointreau
½ ounce fresh squeezed lime juice

Add all ingredients to a shaker over ice, shake until chilled, pour over ice in a rocks glass.

Mayan Margarita -- Salud!
Mexican Chocolate Pot de Creme
Pot de Creme

Pictures will not do this dessert justice. Insanely rich, with just a slight kick of cinnamon and spices to mix up the creamy chocolatey richness. This was a perfect end to a spicy dinner or really any evening. Delicioso.

Mexican Chocolate Pot de Crème

From Food & Wine

 1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
6 ounces Mexican chocolate, such as Ibarra, finely chopped
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, plus shavings for garnish (optional)
Unsweetened whipped cream, for serving (optional) 

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the whole milk with the heavy cream and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat.

2. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of the hot milk to temper the eggs, then transfer the mixture to the saucepan.

3. Cook the custard over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Immediately add the finely chopped Mexican and bittersweet chocolate and remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted.

4. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a large glass measuring cup or bowl. Pour the chocolate mixture into 6 small bowls and refrigerate until the pots de crème are chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight. Serve the pots de crème with optional unsweetened whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Mexican Rice and Roasted Asparagus with Chili and Onions
Mexican Dishes

Admittedly, when I think of Mexican food I immediately think of tacos. And I love tacos. Like, a lot. I also know, however, that there is a very rich culture of Mexican food that does not revolve around tacos. So this year we ventured out and found some delicious non-taco recipes to make. I highly recommend you take the time to make Pollo en Mole Verde. The Mexican rice is pretty standard fare, and makes a good sopping up agent for any saucy dish like the Pollo en Mole Verde. The asparagus is delicious with any meal, on it’s own roasted asparagus is a favorite, with the additional of rich, sweet, and spicy sautéed onions and dried chili it is on another level.

Mexican Rice

Mexican Rice

Adapted from Saveur

2 cups chicken stock (reserved from cooking chicken if also making Pollo en Mole Verde)
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1⁄2 small yellow onion, chopped
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 cup long grain white rice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Place stock, tomatoes, 1 clove garlic, and onion in a blender and purée until smooth; set tomato mixture aside.

2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; add remaining garlic and rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato mixture, season with salt and pepper, and reduce heat to low.

3. Cook, covered, until rice is tender and has absorbed all liquid, 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Gently fluff the rice with a fork.


Asparagus

Roasted Asparagus with Chili and Onions

Inspired by Rick Bayless

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½  medium onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 dried pepper, such as pasilla or adobo sliced into thin strips or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 large bunch (about 1 pound) asparagus, cleaned with bottom 1/2 inch removed
Salt

1. Preheat oven to 400˚ F.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat, add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for a minute or so, until soft and aromatic.

3. Set cooked onion and garlic aside, add dried pepper to the pan and toast for no more than one minute, add to the onion mixture. Add vinegar to mixture and stir to combine.

4. On a large baking sheet drizzle ½ tablespoon olive oil, lay asparagus onto sheet and drizzle with remaining oil. Sprinkle with salt. Roast in 400˚ oven for 20 minutes or until tender, flipping halfway through.

5. Serve topped with onion mixture.

 

Mexico GP 2018: Pollo en Mole Verde

Sometimes I find, the food is more exciting than the F1 races. At those times I think, maybe this blog should just be food from around the world. A-Z cooking, International Cuisine, something clever to do with how each region makes pot pies… I don’t know. But then, then there are races like Mexico. Can’t tear your eyes away, did Max really just make that pass? what happened to Sainz?? oh, no, that isn’t Checo is it??? This is why we watch Formula 1. It is turning into a cracking end of the season, even with the Driver’s championship tied up and the Constructor’s about to be, there is still some awesome fighting spirit left in all the drivers and teams.

Mexican GP Meal

For the Mexico race we made Chicken with Mole Verde Sauce, Mexican Rice, Asparagus, and for dessert Mexican Chocolate Pot de Creme. The Mole Verde sauce was the star of this meal. We all determined that we would eat just about anything if it came in this sauce. Rich, vibrant, creamy, savory, so good.

Chicken with Mole Verde

Chicken with Mole Verde Sauce

Adapted from Saveur

For the Chicken

1 (3–4-lb.) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1⁄2 cup chopped cilantro stems
2 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 bay leaf

For the Mole Verde

8 oz. tomatillos, peeled and chopped
2 jalapeños, stemmed and chopped
1⁄2 cup cilantro leaves
2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (8-inch) flour or combination corn and flour tortillas, toasted
1 cup chicken stock or water
3 tbsp. canola oil

1. Place chicken, cilantro, salt, peppercorns, garlic, onion, bay leaf, and enough water to cover the chicken, in a large dutch oven or 6-qt. saucepan and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until chicken is tender, about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, prep sauce ingredients. Heat tomatillos and jalapeños in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and slightly darkened, about 10 minutes.

3. Transfer to a blender with cilantro, salt, garlic, toasted tortillas, and 1 cup water or chicken stock; puree.

4. Heat oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; add tomatillo sauce and fry, stirring constantly, until it thickens into a paste, about 5 minutes.

5. Remove chicken from saucepan and strain liquid through a fine strainer; reserve 3 cups, and save remaining liquid for another use (such as Mexican Rice). Set chicken and liquid aside.

6. Whisk in to the cooked tomatillo sauce the reserved cooking liquid and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, until reduced and thickened, about 30 minutes.

7. Add chicken pieces and cook until heated through, about 10 minutes.

 

Mexican Sides - Zucchini and Onions, Refried Beans, Pineapple Salsa
Mexican Sides

Mexican GP dinner was definitely a few of my favorite things. Tacos, fresh fruit salsa, veggies, and of course margaritas. 

Zucchini and Onions
Zucchini

Zucchini and Onions

1 Tblsp light olive oil
4-6 small zucchini and/or crookneck summer squash, sliced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 - 1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cumin
2 sprigs fresh oregano finely chopped (or 1/2 tsp dried)
Freshly cracked pepper (optional)

Heat cast iron or heavy bottomed frying pan on medium high. Add olive oil until shimmering. 

Add chopped onion, stir to lightly cover in oil, then let cook undisturbed until lightly browned, flip and continue to cook 2-4 minutes. 

Add garlic, zucchini and squash, sprinkle salt, cumin, and oregano on top. Continue to let vegetables brown on pan slipping occasionally. 

Cook until desired texture. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

 

Black Beans

Refried Beans

From Serious Eats - for other options including pinto beans and different herbs/ fats check out the recipe and article

1/2 pound dried black beans
Water
2 sprigs fresh oregano
1 medium yellow onion, 1/2 minced, 1/2 left whole
2 medium cloves garlic
Kosher salt
6 tablespoons bacon drippings (or vegetable oil for vegetarian version)

1. In a large pot, cover the beans with cold water by at least 2 inches. Add herb sprigs, the whole onion half, and garlic cloves and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until beans are very tender, about 1 to 2 hours.

2. Season with salt. Drain beans, reserving bean-cooking liquid. Discard herb sprigs, onion, and garlic.

3. In a large skillet, heat bacon drippings or vegetable oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add minced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and lightly golden, about 7 minutes.

4. Stir in beans and cook for 2 minutes.

5. Add 1 cup of reserved bean-cooking liquid. Using bean masher, potato masher, or back of a wooden spoon, smash the beans to form a chunky purée; alternatively, use a stick blender to make a smoother purée.

6. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until desired consistency is reached; if refried beans are too dry, add more bean-cooking liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed.

7. Season with salt and serve.

 

Pineapple Salsa

Pineapple Salsa

Adapted from Saveur

1 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
1⁄4 cup finely chopped cilantro
3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 jalapeños, stemmed and minced
1/2 small red onion, minced

Mix together all ingredients, serve. 

One of my favorite go-to throw together recipes is a fruit salsa. If you have fruit, onion, any kind of pepper, almost any kind of fresh herb, and a sharp knife, you are set. It fixes almost any boring meal: chicken, fish, pork, tacos, quesadillas, beans, you name it. 

Fresh Fruit Salsa "Recipe"

Chopped fruit: Mango, Pineapple, Strawberries, Plums, Nectarines, finely chopped
Onion: red or white, diced
Pepper: bell pepper, jalapeno, habanero, diced
Herb: Cilantro, Mint, Parsley, Oregano, finely chopped
Salt
Lime juice (or orange or lemon)
Olive oil (optional)

Chop, Toss, Eat
 

Mexican GP - Chicken Tacos and Margs

¡¡¡¡¡¡¡Vamos Maaaaaaax!!!!!!!

This race was so much fun to watch and I cannot tell you how excited we are to see Max win! Not only is he a great racer, well spoken, has an awesome fan following, but he is Dutch and Belgian! 

I love Mexican food, and California-ized Mexican is just as good, but with more avocado. We made shredded chicken tacos and served them with homemade refried beans, stir fried zucchini, and fresh pineapple salsa. And of course we followed them up with some classic margaritas. 

Mexico F1Cookbook

These tacos were awesome, the fresh orange juice made them bright and juicy and delicious. I highly recommend.

Chicken Tacos
Mexican Spices

 

Shredded Chicken Tacos

Adapted from Life Made Simple

1 Tbsp. canola oil
2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs and/or breast, cubed and lightly seasoned with salt
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
juice of 2 oranges (about 1 cup)
juice of 2 limes (about ½ cup)
1 jalapeño, minced
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, chopped

For Serving:

corn tortillas
avocado
diced red onion
salsa
chopped cilantro
lime wedges

1. Turn pressure cooker* on the “Sauté” setting. Add oil and sear chicken in batches until lightly brown. Try not to overcrowd the chicken so it sears rather than steams. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.

2. Add the chicken back to the pot (along with any juices). Add spices and salt, mix everything to disperse the seasoning. Add the orange juice, lime juice, jalapeño, and cilantro.

3. Place the lid on the pressure cooker and cook on the “Poultry” setting for 12 minutes. After the chicken has fully cooked, carefully turn the steam release vent and let the pressure release. Once the pressure has fully released, remove the lid and turn the pressure cooker on “Sauté”.

4. Cook down until most of the remaining liquid is gone, or for crispy chicken, cook until the liquid is gone, then stir every 2-3 minutes for 6 minutes, taking care to not let the chicken burn. (Alternatively you can spread chicken on a baking sheet and broil for 3-5 minutes.)

5. Using tongs, as you stir the chicken it should shred. If needed you can shred the chicken with two forks. Toss with extra lime juice, if desired.

6. Serve with corn tortillas, topped with optional: avocado, red onion, cilantro, pineapple salsa, or your favorite hot sauce, ours is Cholula.

*(these directions are for Instant Pot, settings may vary)

 

Tacos and Sides

"Juan's" Margaritas

We already have a recipe for "Juan's" Margaritas on this blog, but I want to provide you two things today. One is the more reasonable single serving recipe, and the second is the "original" as found labeled on the beer/ margarita fridge in my brother-in-laws garage. Needless to say, he threw some great parties. 

"Juan's" Margaritas (for one)

1 1/2 ounces silver tequila
1/2 ounce triple sec
1/2 ounce lime
1/4 ounce agave syrup

Rim a rocks glass with salt, add ice.  In a shaker mix all ingredients, shake lightly or stir until agave is incorporated, pour over ice and garnish with lime wedge.

 

On a side note, and an introduction to more awesome online content (this time not F1 related): 

I was so tempted to make Puerco Pibil (AKA Conchita Pibil). It was showing up everywhere. I watched an episode of Binging with Babish (below) that featured it, I found it in my Tacopedia book, my brother-in-law shared a version from Gourmet magazine, it showed up on Saveur's list of authentic Mexican recipes. But unfortunately, I am porked out. We just made a seven-pound pork shoulder recipe last weekend and I don't think I could handle another one! But next year, it is ON. I will not fear Johnny Depp showing up and shooting me for the deliciousness that surely will be, I will simply make the best Puerco Pibil and stand tall. 

Margaritas

Margaritas? Yes, please. 

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My family has a love affair with margaritas. We joked for years that when my brother-in-law had kids he would name them Jose and Margarita. 

It also just so happens that we love Mexican food, especially all forms of tacos. Growing up in California gave us plenty of opportunities to sample the best of what Mexican-American establishments have to offer, and although thier food can be outstanding, their margaritas are pure crap. Too Americanized to the sugary-sweet palate of most of their customers, they are undrinkable. 

We are here to remedy that, with this gorgeousness. It only takes one to feel like you could dance salsa with the best of them, and eat all those tacos at the taco bar, so be careful! 

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"Juan's"  Margaritas

6 parts silver tequila
2 parts fresh lime juice
2 parts triple sec
1 part agave nectar

Stir all ingredients together, serve over ice in a salt rimmed glass.

 

These are the creation of hard research and many years of taste testing by my husband's brother John, and they will forever be immortalized as the drinks that made the following events happen:

My mother and my mother-in-law both broke down in giggle-fits at my engagement party. 
My friend fell asleep face down on a pool floaty ALL night at a summer party. 
A man lit fire to a palm tree in a back yard and failed to notice until someone sprayed him and the tree down with a hose -- which he found quite rude. 
And many other ridiculous and amazing travesties. 

I recommend one with a side of carnitas tacos, and then maybe a few Corona's if you're feeling thirsty :) 

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Mexican Grand Prix - Carnitas Tacos

Formula 1 Gran Premio de Mexico has two fabulous things about it. The people and the stadium esses. The drivers clearly love the atmosphere in Mexico City and seem to let loose and joke around a bit more than usual which is so fun to see. The track itself goes through the grand stands in what they call the "stadium" and every time a Mexican driver goes through, the crowd goes WILD. The commentators also seem to love this section of track and get all giddy whenever a driver does an overtake through the esses.

Also a third, and for me, most important thing: the food.

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This year, and every year if I have anything to say about it, we made tacos.

Carnitas are an all day affair, unless you have an Instant Pot, the most magical of kitchen appliances. I realize I sound like a housewife from the 1950's, "I used to slave away in the kitchen for hours, until the invention of (fill in the blank)", also because that "fill in the blank" is a pressure cooker. My father used to use a pressure cooker to make lentil stews. That is my only memory of this appliance. Also that the little top rattled and hissed and I always expected it to spew hot water at me as I crept passed it in the kitchen trying not to make it explode.

That was my only memory until now. Until the day my husband came home and told me he was "pressured into buying a pressure cooker" because it was on sale on Amazon and everyone in his office was buying one. What... are we being serious right now?

Yes, he was serious. And now I have to learn how to use a pressure cooker. Which so far has been... AWESOME.

Carnitas usually means either slow oven or slow cooker for 3-4 hours. Pressure Cooker: 50 minutes (plus 30 heat up/ cool down), so under an hour and a half. UNDER an hour and a half. Yes please.

At this point I have to thank the internets, and pinterest in particular for the many, many, many ideas for Instant Pot recipes. Including the gem below for Carnitas (though really this is a mash up of two- three recipes).

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Carnitas

adapted from: All Recipes and Damn Delicious

1 (6 pound) pork butt roast
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1- 1 1/2 cups orange juice (fresh or bottled)
juice of 1 lime (1-2 tablespoons)
1-2 onions, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic

Trim excess fat from pork butt (leaving some on for flavor); cut pork into large cubes.

Combine salt, oregano, cumin, black pepper, chili powder, and paprika together in a bowl. Rub pork cubes with spice mixture.

Place pork in pressure cooker. Top with orange juice, lime juice, onion, and garlic.

Close lid of Instant Pot (or other pressure cooker) and cook using the high pressure setting with the meat button for 60 minutes.

When the pressure releases, remove pork from pressure cooker and shred meat, mix with juices in pot. Let rest.

Preheat oven to broil.

Place carnitas onto a baking sheet and broil until crisp and crusted, about 3-4 minutes, stir once.

Serve with corn tortillas, chopped cilantro, chopped white onions and hot sauce. Optional additional sides: salsa, chopped tomatoes, cotija cheese. 

 

And of course Margaritas!

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"Juan's" Margaritas

6 parts silver tequila
2 parts fresh lime juice
2 parts triple sec
1 part agave nectar

Stir all ingredients together, serve over ice in a salt rimmed glass.

MexicoMariaDEntree, PorkComment