Mariachi music has
always had the ability to change my state of mind immediately and make me
happy. When I was just 19, I was serenaded for the first time by a group of Mariachi’s
under my window at 2 AM. From that moment on, I was bound to the music and this
So what type of
food do you pair with Mariachi music?
I asked 20 people
sitting in the Jardin yesterday and 20 out of 20 said…
I looked all
over San Miguel for a Cemita and I couldn’t find one. I’m new here so unless I
am missing something there are none to be found. Anyway, it gives me an excuse
to go to Puebla to get this sandwich which is served ona
bread roll that’s covered with sesame seeds. It’s as much about the sandwich as
it is the roll. That’s not the real draw however; the bread is made with egg,
and resembles a brioche. Just mention
Brioche and you have my attention.
I decided to try
the closest thing here in San Miguel, the Torta, at:
El Tucan, Hernando Macias
Torta Mundo,Umaran #29
Tortitlan, Juarez #17
Back in Chicago, I go
to Rick Bayless’s street food restaurant XOCO where they serve tortas in soup. I’ve
gotten use to eating them that way so this will be a new adventure.
For those who have
not had one, a torta is served on a bolillo to which you add meat (a milanesa
of pork, chicken or steak or ham) and then overstuff with veggies. For the most
part, they are pretty healthy except if you select a milanesa, which of course
I did because many people told me it was their favorite.
After a brief
flirt with all three, El Tucan and Tortitlan topped my list as the best torta restaurants in
San Miguel. At Hernandez Macias #56, El Tucan turned out to be a real find in
many other ways.
I hesitated when
I walked in the door because this was Guy Fieri’s (Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives)
definition of a real dive ( a hole in the wall,
not necessary speaking about the way they prepare their food).
are also known by locals as the best place to eat, because of both price and the
quality of the food.
Fact of the
matter was the smell of French fries drew me in. They were REAL French fries
and I stood in the entry, next to the long stove, watching the cook cut them. These
were the first fresh-cut fries I’ve had since I’ve been in San Miguel. Did I
tell you that French Fries are my favorite food? I was impressed.
After having the
Torta Milanesa Pollo, which was delicious, I decided to go back the next day to
try the hamburger. Guy Fieri would give this place a huge thumbs up for the
food. I actually can’t remember when a burger tasted so darn good. Alejandro, the owner, grinds fresh hamburger daily from flank steak. He worked in Illinois for many years and truly knows fresh food.
That night, I decided
to try my hand and make a Torta for dinner. I used only the best ingredients:
Bolillos from Cumpanio
Bakery, Correo #29
Bread crumbs fromLa Queseria, Calle Ancha San Antonio #35b
Chicken from La Lonja Carniceria, Mesones
Veggies from the
I have to admit
that I liked my version better than the ones I ate out and it all goes back to
the fresh ingredients.
OK – So I’m Still Craving a Cemita…
I had a Cemita
recipe from a 2004 issue of Gourmet magazine. After looking high and low for a
cemita bun, or something like one, I made this sandwich today. It was exactly
the savor I was craving. I thought that it would be hot but it was actually just the right amount of spice. We’ll see when I travel to Puebla which one is
4 Mexican cemita
rolls or sesame seed hamburger buns
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 1/2 cups Oaxaca
cheese or mozzarella cheese, shredded
4 chipotle chiles
in adobo, finely chopped
1/2 large white
onion, thinly sliced
1 large plum
tomato, thinly sliced crosswise
Discard chile stems
and cut guajillo and ancho chiles open lengthwise. Discard seeds and ribs.
Heat a dry heavy
skillet over moderate heat until hot, then toast chiles, a few at a time,
turning and pressing down with tongs, until softened and fragrant, about 10
seconds per side.
Transfer chiles to
a bowl, then cover with hot water and soak until softened, about 20 minutes.
Trim fat from pork or
chicken and pound between 2 sheets of wax paper with flat side of a meat
pounder or with a rolling pin until meat is about 1/8 inch thick.
Heat skillet over
low heat until hot then toast cumin, peppercorns, clove, and cinnamon, stirring
constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Transfer spices to
a blender and add vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, and soaked chiles with about
1/3 cup soaking water, then blend until smooth. Transfer half of chile paste to
an airtight container and chill or freeze for another use, then put remainder
in a small bowl.
Spread a thin layer
of chile paste in middle of a sheet of plastic wrap large enough to wrap all of
meat and put 1 pork chop over paste. Spread a thin layer of chile paste on top,
then continue layering meat, spreading each piece with chile paste. Wrap
stacked pork in plastic wrap and marinate, chilled, at least 2 hours.
oil in a heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.
Season pork chops or chicken with salt and sauté, in batches, adding more oil
as necessary, until just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
Toast rolls in the
oven until golden brown.
In a bowl, lightly
mash avocado with a fork, then spread on both sides of rolls.
Season avocado with
salt, then top with cilantro.
Next layer pork,
cheese, chipotles, onion, and tomato.
I eat soup and chili year round
no matter how hot it is outside. I like them because once you get everything in
the pot, you are done. I’m all for easy…especially when I have guests.
I love serving soups and chilis
out of the beautiful pottery that I am now finding at the local market.
These two are
celebrated, full-fledged meals with a chunk of crusty bread and a bottle of
great Mexican wine from the Guadalupe Valley.
Smoky Lamb and Chorizo Chili Adapted from Bon Appetit
2 ¼ cups unsalted chicken
broth 3 ounces dried ancho chilies 1 tsp. cayenne pepper 1 1/2 lbs pork chorizo,
casings removed (about 4 or 5) 1 large red onion, chopped 1 ball of garlic, peeled and
chopped 1 tablespoon dried oregano 1 tablespoon cumin 1 1/2 lbs ground lamb 1 15 ounce can pinto beans,
drained Salt and black pepper Grated cheddar cheese Sliced green onions Sour cream Pickled jalapenos, chopped Fresh cilantro, chopped
Combine first three
ingredients in saucepan. Cover and simmer until chilies soften and broth turns
dark red, about 10 minutes. Puree mixture in food processor. Strain mixture
through mesh strainer, pressing on solids until all liquid is drained.
Cook chorizo in a large pot over medium heat until
drippings flow freely. Add the onion, garlic, oregano, and cumin, and sauté
until chorizo starts to brown and onions soften, about five minutes.
Crumble lamb into pot, and add salt and pepper.
Sauté until lamb is no longer pink. Add chili liquid, and reduce heat. Cover
and simmer for one hour.
Add drained pinto beans and
simmer until thick, about 15 minutes. Serve with sour cream, green onions,
grated cheddar, cilantro, and pickled jalapenos.
Tortilla Chicken Soup serves 4
1 tsp. canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
4 c. chicken broth
2 c. cooked, chicken – both dark and white meat from a rotisserie chicken
1 c. fresh corn
2 fresh tomatoes, sliced thin
1 fresh, whole green chili, sliced thin
Juice of 1 fresh lime
1/2 c. baked tortilla chips, crushed
1/4 c. shredded Cheddar and Colby Jack Mexican mix cheese
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1 c. diced, peeled avocado
Heat in a large saucepan. Add the oil. Add garlic, chili powder and cumin. Cook
one minute. Add the next four ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and
simmer for 5 minutes. Add lime juice and salt to taste. Ladle into four bowls.
Top with chips, cheese, cilantro and avocado.
I first saw this recipe in the Tulsa Tribune
way back when. It’s been one of my standby recipes all these years. People love
it because it’s just like eating a mini cheese pizza. You can also put as much
or as little as cheese to top it off.
The trick is to crisp the tortilla in the pan
before you place the ingredients on it and put it under the broiler.
I will sometimes have one or two for dinner
when I’m feeling way too lazy to cook.
Place tortilla in a fry pan over medium heat and
crisp on both sides. Place the tortilla on a cookie sheet and top with cheese.
Place under the broiler and cook until the cheese melts and it is a little
brown around the edges.
You can put other toppings on these little
Pizzas but I like it just with cheese.
recipe is one from the Chicago Tribune and was adapted from Danny Mena, Hecho
en Dumbo, Manhattan. This sauce is also good on fish tacos.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 pounds tomatillos, papery husks removed, cut
in half 8-12 Serrano chilies (depending on heat
tolerance) ½ onion, peeled 1 garlic clove 6 whole sprigs cilantro, stems included Lime Juice Salt
In a wide skillet, heat oil until shimmering but
Add tomatillos, chilies, onion (cut side down)
Cook over medium-high heat, turning often, until
vegetables are browned, turning to black and seared on all sides.
Add cilantro and puree with blender until
smooth, adding a little water if needed.
Season to taste with salt and lime juice.
The sauce should be tart and spicy but rounded
Here is another Salsa Verde recipe option
that you do not have to cook. You’ll never buy it again once you see how easy
it is to make and just how much better it is made from scratch.
oz. tomatillos, husked and rinsed 4 cloves garlic 2 medium white onions, quartered 2 jalapeños, stemmed 1 tsp. sugar 1 bunch cilantro, stemmed Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to
Place tomatillos, garlic, onions, and jalapeños
in a 4-qt. saucepan; cover with water by 1". Bring to a boil; cook until
slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Drain and reserve 1 cup cooking liquid.
Transfer to a blender along with reserved
liquid, sugar, cilantro, and salt and pepper; pulse until chunky. Transfer to a
bowl, and serve at room temperature.
I just got
back from Michoacan where I had my first paleta. I didn’t have one here in San
Miguel because I wanted to reserve that “first” for the birthplace of the
crave these in the summer and this summer has been no exception. Thepaleterías
here however always make them with fresh fruit so they are wonderfully
flavors are creamy and includesuch
standard flavors as vanilla, strawberry and chocolate.Ice-based
flavors include strawberry, mango, cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple and yes
everything else, there are also many gourmetpaleteríaspopping up who use fresh, all-natural local
Here are two
I made that were both really good – one icy and the other creamy.
They are a
real treat after walking the hills all day in the warm afternoon sun.
Pops (Paletas de Piña)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4 cups minced
and 1 cup water to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan and stir until sugar dissolves.
Transfer mixture to a bowl and refrigerate until chilled.
chilled mixture and half of the pineapple into a blender; purée. Set a fine
sieve over a bowl and strain puréed pineapple mixture, discarding solids. Stir
the remaining pineapple into the mixture and pour into eight 3-oz. ice-pop
molds to the freezer and freeze until slushy, about 1 hour.
Popsicle stick into each mold and freeze until pops are solid, about 3 hours
ice pops from molds, run the bottom of the molds briefly under warm water.
strawberries, hulled and halved (save one for the stick)
premium vanilla ice cream
strawberries and put in a large bowl. Transfer to a bowl, then freeze,
uncovered, until cold, about 10 minutes.
cream to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 30 percent power in 10-second
intervals, stirring, until softened, about 50 seconds total.
in a 13-by 9-inch baking dish and freeze while strawberry mixture chills.
tablespoons of strawberry all over ice cream, then swirl it gently through ice
cream with a spoon.
molds (or into cups) and add sticks with a berry nearest the paleta.
can think of at least a dozen reasons to buy locally grown and raised foods. To me it is important to know where my food comes from and what it was fed.
You also get incomparable taste and freshness. Is there anything better than savoring the taste of a just-picked salad?
of the restaurant owners in San Miguel now have green rooftops and are growing many
of the things you see on their menus.
where your food comes from and what it’s fed is your quickest ticket to healthy
eating. I agree that the price may be a bit more expensive but when you weigh
in the fact that you get weeks instead of days out of locally grown, it’s less
expensive in the long run. I seldom throw food out anymore.
meats, dairy products, and seasonal produce are the key ingredients to creating
I was in Chicago, I shopped at Green City Market twice a week. Green City is one
of the major organic markets in the world and has strict standards by which its
vendors are required to follow.
In fact, even for prepared food vendors, Green
City expects them to source as many ingredients as they can from farmers at the
love San Miguel’s organic market not only because it connects me to the sources
of what I’m eating but also from a social aspect. Every week I meet many new
people just by sitting down at one of the communal tables and sharing a cup of
food is delicious. Last week I had the most wonderful Lamb Barbacoa dressed
with onion, cilantro and salsa verde.
am I eating now? A chocolate doughnut.
for today, I think I’ll skip the reminder “You Are What You Eat.
3 pounds boneless lamb shoulder 5 ancho chiles 3 guajillo chiles 8 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced ¾ cup of brewed coffee ½ cup of water ½ tsp. cinnamon 1 tsp. oregano 1 tsp. cumin 1 tbsp. agave nectar 1 onion, cut into fine slivers
cup chopped cilantro Salt to taste
Toast chiles over medium heat on each side and
then turn off the heat and fill the skillet with water. Let the chiles soak for
22 minutes until soft.
Cut the lamb into two-inch cubes and rub with
Drain the chiles and place in a blender. Add the
garlic, coffee, water, cinnamon, oregano, cumin and agave nectar. Puree until
Cover the lamb with the chile puree, and let marinate
in the refrigerator for at least six hours.
Heat the oven to 250.In a roasting pan, coat the bottom with marinade.
Place onions on top and then top with the lamb.
Cover with foil, and then cook for four hours or
Shred meat with forks and serve on homemade
tortillas with the traditional cilantro, onions and salsa verde.
I’ve gotten to the stage
where I am cooking and eating in a lot more. Why? The last three times I’ve
eaten out, the food has been run of the mill at best and they were at 3 highly
I’m disappointed. I
can’t rely on Michael Coons to feed me – although he has a cooking class almost
every week. More about Michael in a few weeks when I do another tasting in his
kitchen. The last one was incredible.
My standards are
very high and simple when it comes to food…when I spend money to eat out, I
expect good food.
ingredients here has been somewhat difficult but I am gaining confidence as I
cooked another terrific Sunday dinner at home. I’ve never been a huge fan of
Rachel Ray but this recipe was good. I savor the fresh peaches as long as
they are in season.
Of course, the
Watermelon Margarita helped boost my confidence. So much so I had to have
Chicken and Peaches
Recipe by Rachel Ray
2 tablespoons butter 4 peaches, pitted, thickly sliced or halved 1/2 lemon, juiced 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 6 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breasts Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 shallot, chopped 1 (2-inch) piece ginger, grated or minced 3/4 cup chicken stock 2/3 cup peach preserves 2 teaspoons hot sauce 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Heat a medium skillet with the butter over
medium heat. Add the peaches and the juice of 1/2 lemon, and cook until tender
and lightly golden, 10 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, a turn
of the pan, in a large skillet over medium-high to high heat.
Cut the chicken breasts in half across the center of each
breast to make 4 equal portions.
Add the chicken breasts to the pan and season with salt and
pepper, to taste. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes,
then remove to a plate and cover with foil.
Drizzle the pan with the remaining extra-virgin
olive oil, half a turn of the pan.
Add the chopped shallot, and the ginger, and cook for 1 to 2
Stir in the stock, the preserves, hot sauce and
Worcestershire sauce and season with black pepper, to taste.
Cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes to thicken.
Arrange the chicken and peaches on a platter and douse with
This was both delicious and strong.
A few sips and I was already looking for my second one.
You can switch out the
fruit. I tried it with rum and loved it.
Blender Watermelon Margarita
Makes 1 cocktail
4 to 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 parts tequila
1 parts vodka or rum
Dash of triple sec
2 cups mashed watermelon flesh, seeds
3 tbsp. sugar
3 cups crushed ice
Combine all of the ingredients in a
blender and blend until smooth.
Pour into the glass and garnish with
watermelon or a lime wedge.