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Rosca de Reyes, a Mexican tradition and religious holiday
En Español

The Rosca de Reyes, or ring-shaped Rosca de Reyes is a sweet round, cake or oval shape Mexican bread, decorated with slices of crystallized or candied fruit colors. The King cake is also called: biscuit, cake or sweet bread to celebrate the three kings.

Rosca de Reyes by El Molino

Rosca de Reyes by El Molino

The celebration of Epiphany to enjoy the Rosca de Reyes is a Mexican tradition that takes place, 12 days after Christmas, each year in social reunions with family, friends or colleagues in offices or homes. This meeting is usually done a few days before or after January 6 at the offices or places outside the home, however for the family reunions they are normally held in homes on the sixth day of January in the evening, Epiphany Day or the appearance of the Wise Men or Magi Kings: Balthazar, Melchior and Caspar.

This tradition of eating together and sharing a rosca de reyes bread with a hot chocolate to remember the Holy Kings, is made as a snack or pre-dinner at an early hour in the late evening, so that children are present and can participate in the tradition of getting together to enjoy and share a slice of rosca de reyes

Rosca de Reyes with plastic doll

Rosca de Reyes with plastic doll

and it is important when you cut a slice, that on both sides of the rosca, does not appear the figure of the infant Jesus (plastic doll symbolizing Jesus newborn). It is worth to mention that also a small showing inside may bearly appear in the sweet bread. Now in days another figure of a Wise Men of plastic may be hidden inside the bread, so that two people who are to split the party cost. It is said that the person who finds the baby Jesus, should put the house for a party on Candlemas Day on February 2. On this day your guest are expecting to eat tamales and Mexican appetizers, so it is important to re-join the same group that was present when the rosca was cut. Incidentally, the person who finds the plastic wise man or Magi King in his or hers slice, normally must pay the costs of the party, in reality the expenses of the party is shared by both persons. It is considered to have good luck and that you are fortunate if you find the baby Jesus and/or the Wise Man.

The tradition of holding the reunion to celebrate the Day of the Epiphany comes from the middle ages in Europe, mainly from Spain and France. This tradition came to Mexico at the time of the early years of the viceroys.

El Molino Bakery bakes the best Rosca de Reyes which is sold in Mexico since 1928, MexGrocer.com buys the Roscas de Reyes from El Molino bakery in Tijuana where they freeze the freshly baked roscas and we keep them like that, until we send them to our customers throughout the United States so you can get home fresh and ready to eat when they are delivered to your door.

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Rosca de Reyes, una gran tradición Mexicana y fiesta religiosa
For English

La Rosca de Reyes, roscón o rosco de reyes es un pan dulce festivo en forma redonda u ovalada, adornada con rodajas de fruta cristalizada o confitada de colores. Los Roscones de Reyes tambien se denominan: biscocho, pastel o pan de dulce para celebrar los reyes magos.

Rosca de Reyes El Molino

Rosca de Reyes El Molino

La celebración del Día de Reyes para partir la Rosca de Reyes es una tradición Mexicana que se lleva a cabo cada año juntando amistades cercanas ya sean familiares, amigos o compañeros de trabajo en las oficinas o casas. Esta reunión normalmente se hace unos días antes del 6 de Enero en las oficinas o lugares fuera de la casa y para las reuniones familiares se celebran en las casas el día seis de Enero en la tarde, día de la Epifanía o aparición de los Reyes Magos: Melchor, Gaspar y Baltazar.

Esta tradición de juntarse a comer y compartir una rosca de reyes con un chocolate caliente para recordar los Santos Reyes Magos, se hace con una merienda o cena a una hora temprana de la tarde noche, para que estén presentes los niños y participen en la tradición de todos partir juntos una rebanada de rosca de reyes

Rosca de Reyes con figura

Rosca de Reyes con figura

y que vean todos los presentes, que por ambos lados del corte no aparezca la figura del niño Jesus (muñeco de plástico que simboliza a Jesús recién nacido). Vale la pena mencionar que actualmente también se esconde adentro del pan de dulce o rosca: otra figura de Rey Mago de plástico para que exista la oportunidad de que sean dos las personas que los encuentren al partir la rosca y se dice que la persona que se saca o encuentra al Niño Jesus, debe poner la casa para hacer una fiesta el dia de La Candelaria que es el 2 de Febrero. Ese dia se comen tamales y antojitos Mexicanos y se vuelven a juntar el mismo grupo que estuvo presente cuando se partió la rosca. Por cierto, la persona que se saca en su rebanada el Rey de plástico es el que normalmente debe pagar los gastos de la fiesta, pero en la realidad la fiesta la hacen ambas personas poniéndose de acuerdo y se considera que tienen buena suerte y que son afortunadas por encontrar al Niño Jesús y al Rey Mago.

La tradición de celebrar la reunión de cortar las Roscas de Reyes, rosca de pan dulce o Roscón viene desde la Edad Media en Europa, principalmente en España y Francia. Este celebración llego a México en la época de los primeros años del Virreinato.

Pastelería El Molino hornea la mejor Rosca de Reyes que se vende en México desde 1928, MexGrocer.com la importa de su pastelería en Tijuana que se congela recién horneada y nosotros la mantenemos así hasta que la enviamos a nuestros clientes en todo Estados Unidos para que les llegue a su casa fresca y lista para comerse.

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Enchiladas Suizas

Photo by Garrett Ziegler

As we all know enchiladas are usually made with a chile-based sauce; enchiladas rojas with tomatoes, enchiladas verdes with tomatillos, enchiladas de mole with mole, and so forth.

These enchiladas however, not only have a cream-based sauce, and the chile is just a flavoring, but are also baked! Things have changed very much since I lived in Mexico City, but one would hope that at least some traditions prevail. After all, Mexico is an old country, and as such it is full of traditions. A family tradition, was to go downtown to any of the many good family restaurants on Saturdays, and if we were in the mood for enchiladas, the place to go was to the only restaurant that served at that time the Enchiladas Suizas.

Casa de los Azulejos

Casa de los Azulejos

La Casa de los Azulejos or The House of Tiles, located in the Centro Histórico was where the first Sanborns Restaurant opened for business in 1919. This beautiful building was originally the home of the Counts of the Orizaba Valley, descendants of Hernán Cortés, the Spanish conquistador. It is a magnificent example of Spanish colonial architecture, and this unique building along with the Casa del Marqués de Ramos in Lima, Perú, are considered by experts to be the only such buildings outside of Spain, masterly preserved for almost five hundred years.

With the fall of the Aztec empire on August 13, 1521, a chapter in history of more than two hundred years of one of the most extraordinary cultures of America came to an end. Cortés began organizing the political, economic and religious life of La Nueva España or New Spain, and one of the very first things he did was to provide his best men with land where they could build homes and start a family. Cortés gave them a few years either to bring a wife from Spain, or to marry an Indian.

Around 1530, at the onset of the colony, the construction of a modest house started for the first count of Orizaba. In the course of several decades, the house was then passed on to the different heirs who in turn made additions to the house in order to accommodate their family necessities. By 1828, several changes and additions had been made to this already majestic house. One of the most important additions, if not the most important, was the addition of the blue tiles to the facade known as Talavera of the Queen, made by the last count of Orizaba who died shortly after. Thus, the name of La Casa de los Azulejos or translated the House of Tiles.

The House of Tiles changed owners several times. One of them, Mr. Martinez de la Torre, a well known businessman, would organize literary gatherings at which prestigious poets and writers of the time were invited to read their works. After the demise of Mr. de la Torre, the Iturbe family bought the palace and just a few years later while residing in Paris, decided to rent it to two American entrepreneurs, the Sanborn brothers, Walter and Frank. The government was severely criticized for allowing the Iturbe family to rent such a property to foreigners. The deal finally went through with the condition that the building would be properly maintained and the architecture preserved. The Sanborn brothers converted The House of Tiles into the first restaurant of what it is nowadays, a huge chain of restaurants all over the country.

These new owners maintained and preserved the colonial style of the building and, coached by talented architects, added their own touch. The most visible addition to the building was the glass vault ceiling that covers the beautiful courtyard which serves as the main floor restaurant. This addition allowed famous painters to decorate the walls around the courtyard. Worth mentioning are the paintings of the well known Mexican muralist, Jose Clemente Orozco. La Casa de los Azulejos was declared a National Monument in 1931.

The Sanborns restaurants are very popular at any time of the day. Breakfast business meetings take place while savoring a great assortment of Mexican antojitos, delicious pan dulce (sweet rolls), or just to have coffee with friends and do some browsing or shopping. Fine costume jewellery, leather women’s purses, watches, photography equipment, books, magazines, newspapers of around the world, etc. All this, plus good food makes Sanborns or La Casa de los Azulejos, a place to visit when you are in Mexico City. In the meantime, try this version of the Swiss Enchiladas, which is a bit different from the one served in Sanborns, equally good if not better.

SWISS ENCHILADAS
4 servings

1 large chicken breast
½ celery stalk with leaves
¼ small onion
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 cups whipping cream
½ cup chopped black or green olives
3 green onions, chopped
¼ cup chopped Serrano chiles, seeded
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
12 corn tortillas
1 cup shredded Manchego or Chihuahua cheese

In salted boiling water, cook the chicken breast with the celery and onion for about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the chicken breast and cool, reserving the chicken broth for future use. Discard the celery and onion. When cool enough to handle, shred it with your fingers and set aside.

In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in ¼ cup of the whipping cream. In a saucepan, mix the dissolved cornstarch with the remaining whipping cream and heat over medium heat, stirring, until the cream starts to boil. Add the olives, onions, chiles, and salt and pepper to taste. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Remove the sauce from the heat and keep it warm. Mix about ½ cup of this cream sauce with the shredded chicken. Set the chicken and the rest of the cream sauce aside.

In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium-to-high heat almost to the point of smoking. Using a spatula, quickly dip each tortilla in the hot oil and transfer to paper towels to drain. Keep them warm until you have finished frying all the tortillas.

Dip a tortilla into the cream sauce, add about 2 tablespoons of the chicken, and roll up. Place the enchilada in a baking dish. Repeat this process with the rest of the tortillas. Spoon the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and cover with the cheese. Bake the enchiladas for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and they are heated through. Serve at once.

Another popular dish of the Sanborn’s Restaurants is Molletes, usually served for brunch, topped with a tomato salsa. For a light merienda or supper, these are also served with scrambled eggs .

For the sake of variation, I am also including the recipe of a tomatillo salsa with avocado, a family favourite.

Molletes

Photo by El Gran Dee

Molletes
Yields 6 molletes

6 slices of bolillos or French bread, sliced lengthwise
¾ cup refried beans
½ cup of green salsa with avocado
½ cup Queso de Oaxaca, sliced

Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Spread the bread with the refried beans. Add the salsa and top with enough cheese to cover bread. Place the molletes on a cookie sheet and bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until the cheese melts and the bread starts to brown. Serve immediately.

Green sauce

Photo by Tamera Clark

Green Salsa with Avocado

8 medium tomatillos, husked, stemmed, and washed
3 tbsp. chopped onion
1 large clove garlic
4 serrano chiles, stemmed
½ medium avocado, peeled
A free drops of lime juice
Salt

In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatillos, onion, garlic, chiles, avocado, lime juice, ¼ cup water, and salt to taste and purée until smooth. Add a bit of liquid if the salsa is too thick. Transfer the salsa to a serving bowl or salsera and serve.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a little more on history of Mexico, the story of Sanborns, the Swiss Enchiladas and a simple but delicious Molletes recipe. Please comment below your thoughts, and what you’d like me to write about if you have any suggestions. I’d love to hear them!

Mexican Culinary Treasures: Recipes From Maria Elena's Kitchen

Mexican Culinary Treasures: Recipes From Maria Elena's Kitchen

Maria Elena Cuervo-Lorens is the author of Mexican Culinary Treasures cookbook. She takes you back to her childhood, spent around her grandmother’s table on a shopping expedition with her mother to Mercado La Merced, and for a merienda (snack) of café con leche and biscochos (Mexican sweet rolls) at a bakery in downtown Mexico City. The authentic Mexican recipes she shares with us include tacos, quesadillas and enchiladas. The nouvelle cuisine of cosmopolitan Mexico City, such as cuitlacoche (huitlacohe) crepes, oysters with chipotle chile.

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Sugar Skull as Decorated by Casey Barrett

October is finally here and it’s time to make sugar skulls!  You can learn how to make them right at home and decorate them yourself, or you can buy them pre-made. This fun and festive Mexican folk art is a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) tradition.  The decorated sugar skulls are used to adorn the altars of loved ones along with marigolds, papel picado and candles.  It is not a somber holiday but one of remembrance and joy. For more information about Dia de los Muertos and more about Mexican Cooking, visit Mexican Food at About.com

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These are perfect for Halloween!

Are you tired of the classic recipe for apples covered with chocolate? Maybe not, but now with the Zumba Pica Forritos (5 pieces per box) you can take your favorite Granny Smith Apple and cover it with natural tamarind candy and chili or chamoy powder. They make an ideal treat for a candy and snacks buffet, your favorite teacher (it’s ok to be the teacher’s pet!) or yummy Halloween treats for the exceptionally well behaved kids.

Here is what you need:

1 box Zumba Pica Forritos (5 pieces)
5 Granny Smith apples
1 bottle of your favorite fruit and snack seasoning or chamoy powder candy

Setting for making granny apples covered with tamarind and chili

Setting for making granny apples covered with tamarind and chili

First, get your kitchen setting placement right. Use one bowl for your pre-washed apples. Another bowl for roughly a pint of water, give or take a few drops (just kidding), it’s just to clean your hands as they become sticky and nothing more. A damp or dry towel, your choice, and a plate or tray to rest your finished tamarind covered apples.

Second, and this is the important part, make sure you clean your apples first. Apples should always be washed before eating. To wash, you can give to apples a good rub under running water and then dry them up with a clean paper towel. Make sure they are dry before adding the Forritos tamarind cover.

Finished granny apples covered with tamarind and chiliThird, take one piece of Zumba Pica Forritos and remove the plastic covering. Place your Granny Apple stem facing down and then add the tamarind cover on top. Firmly, with your hands and fingers start spreading or molding the paste all around the apple. Think of this as Zumba Pica giving your apple a great big hug.

Granny apples covered with tamarind and chili in cellophane bags.Fourth, sprinkle your favorite fruit and snack seasoning (like Tajin) or chamoy candy powder. This will remove the stickiness of the tamarind paste, providing an additional layer of spicy and hot flavor for the ideal sweet and sour taste.

Finished Granny apples covered with tamarind and chili in cellophane bags.

Enjoy your Sweet and Sour Hot Apples!

Finally, take a Candy Apple STICKS about 7×1/4″ wooden sharpened and twist it in. Take your finished granny apple tamarind covered treat and place it in a small clear sheet or cellophane bag. Add a nice little tie knot on the ribbon of your choice, and give it to someone you’ll make very happy.

In Spanish, this is also called “Manzana cubierta de tamarindo con chile en polvo”, and according to the experts at UC Davis, “Archelogival data shows that humans were eating apples as early as 6500 B.C.”. Well now you know how to make an apple better (for some) or keep eating it natural just like it was brought to us by nature. Both, are great ways to enjoy the perfect apple.

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Banderita by Cristiano Oliveira


There are many versions of the popular sangrita, a chaser for a straight shot of tequila. It is common in Mexico City to serve premium tequila accompanied with sangrita, a favourite of my family. There always seems to be a batch of this sophisticated sangrita in the fridge.

The Spaniards brought with them to La Nueva España (New Spain), their knowledge of the distillation process learned from the Moors, giving birth to one of the most wonderful beverages: Tequila.

Agave tequilana Weber is the scientific name of the cactus that produces tequila. This agave plant grows in a semi-dry climate in clay-like soil with a high basalt and iron content, conditions that are found mainly in the State of Jalisco, around the city of Guadalajara where the township of Tequila is located.

Tequila is aged in white oak casks. Once this process is finished Tequila is ready to be bottled. The name ‘Tequila’ is protedted and recognized as a native beverage.

The following recipe is my sister-in-law Beatriz’s version, and I must say it is especially good. She serves it in a clear glass pitcher and it looks extremely appealing. It keeps very well, refrigerated, for up to two days. Enjoy sangrita with good Tequila. Any tequila worth buying will have on its label: 100% agave. *

2 green onions or ¼ cup of minced white onion
¾ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
3 to 4 serrano chiles, finely chopped
4 cups V-8 or tomato juice
Juice of 2 limes
Juice of 2 oranges
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Maggi sauce
1 teaspoon Jalapeño Mexican Hot Salsa Bufalo
Salt and pepper

In a bowl, mix the onion, cilantro and chiles with the V-8, lime and orange juices. Add the Worcestershire, Jalapeño, and Maggi sauces, and salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the sangrita to a glass pitcher and refrigerate, covered, overnight or for several hours before serving.

Mexican Culinary Treasures: Recipes From Maria Elena's Kitchen

Mexican Culinary Treasures: Recipes From Maria Elena's Kitchen

Maria Elena Cuervo-Lorens is the author of Mexican Culinary Treasures cookbook. She takes you back to her childhood, spent around her grandmother’s table on a shopping expedition with her mother to Mercado La Merced, and for a merienda (snack) of café con leche and bizcochos (Mexican sweet rolls) at a bakery in downtown Mexico City. The authentic Mexican recipes she shares with us include tacos, quesadillas and enchiladas. The nouvelle cuisine of cosmopolitan Mexico City, such as cuitlacoche (huitlacohe) crepes, oysters with chipotle chile. There are many more recipes of cocktails with tequila on pgs. 212 and 213 of her book.

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Chiles en NogadaThis magnificent dish of Stuffed Poblano Chiles in Walnut Sauce, was created in the city of Puebla by the nuns of the Santa Monica Convent in honour of the triumphant arrival of General Agustin de Iturbide, when independence from Spain was finally attained in 1821 after some not so easy negotiations with General Vicente Guerrero who was then at the head of the Insurgentes army.

Agustín de Iturbide

Agustin de Iturbide (1782-1824), a criollo (born in Mexico of Spanish parents), having been fighting for a few years against the rebels of Insurgentes, first against José Maria Morelos y Pavon (another hero of the independence) who was captured and executed at the end of a ferocious battle, and then against General Guerrero.

Several years had passed before Iturbide realized that the royalists would never win this war and as a result, decided to present General Guerrero with a plan (Plan of Iguala) through which an independent Mexico with himself as Emperor, could be established. General Guerrero agreed to meet with him in Acatempan (The Embrace of Acatempan), in order to discuss the plan drawn out by General Iturbide.

The Plan of Iguala (March 1821) became very popular mainly due to the fact that it satisfied both parties, the Insurgentes by implementing Independence from Spain and the Peninsulares (Spaniards living in Mexico) for avoiding attacks on them and their properties.

Ejército Trigarante

On September 17, 1821 (Iturbide’s birthday), he marched triumphantly into Mexico City with his Ejército Trigarante (Army of the Three Guarantees). The following day Mexico was declared an independent empire and General Iturbide was crowned on July 21, 1822. He ruled as Agustin I (1822-1823), over a large territory which was bordered by Panama in the south, and by the Oregon territory in the north, including the present countries of Central America and the U.S. states of California, Texas, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico. Less than a year later, Agustin de Iturbide was forced to abdicate his reign by a General Santa Ana who announced the birth of a Republic.

During his reign as Emperor of Mexico, he lived in what used to be known as the Palacio de Iturbide now Museo Palacio Cultural Banamex, a true jewel of Baroque architecture with marked Italian influence. This magnificent building was built by the Count of San Mateo Valparaiso as a wedding present for his daughter whose fiancé was of Italian descent. The building is currently a museum that holds the vast Mexican art collection of Banamex (the National Bank of Mexico) and is located in downtown Mexico City, or the Centro Histórico, just a few blocks from the Zócalo and the Cathedral where General Iturbide is buried.

Historic Mexican Flags

During his brief Empire, Iturbide was responsible among other things, for the creation of the modern Mexican flag with its three colours, green, white and red. These colors representing the three guarantees and to honour the legacy of the Aztecs, the emblem of the cactus with the perching eagle.

The decoration of the Stuffed Poblano Chiles in Walnut Sauce (Chiles en Nogada) was clearly a political move. If there is something that gives a unique character to Mexican cuisine in my opinion, is most definitely all its sauces and moles with key ingredients such as peanuts, almonds, walnuts, and of course chiles. In fact, poblano chiles are sometimes identified outside of Mexico as the ‘stuffing’ chile, so the uniqueness of this particular dish is clearly due to its attractive decoration and the history behind it.

In Mexico, this wonderful dish is traditionally served in the fall, when the walnuts for the creamy nogada sauce are harvested in northern Mexico. The combination of the pulled pork, the sweetness of the raisins, almonds and candied fruit, with the spicy heat of the chiles, is bound to conquer refined palates anywhere.

Stuffed Poblano Chiles in Walnut Sauce
Chiles en Nogada
Serves 10

For the filling
1 lb (500 g) pork loin
1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup chopped onion
3 large ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
½ cup canned tomato sauce
Dash each of cinnamon, cumin, cloves
½ cup chopped cooked ham
¼ cup chopped almonds
¼ cup raisins, soaked in water
½ cup chopped, candied citron or
¼ cup each, peeled and chopped fresh apple, pear, and peach
Dash each of salt, sugar

Cook the pork loin in boiling salted water for 12 to 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and reserve the broth. When the pork is cool enough to handle, shred it with your fingers and set aside.

In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the garlic and onion until the onion is transparent. Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce, and continue cooking for a few minutes longer. Stir in the pork, ½ to 1 cup of the reserved broth, the cinnamon, cumin, cloves, ham, almonds, drained raisins, and citron. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and the fruit is tender. Set aside to cool.

For the Sauce
1 slice of bread
½ cup milk
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 (4 oz/125 g) package cream cheese or
125 g. Mexican Queso Fresco
Dash each of cinnamon, sugar
1 teaspoon dry sherry

Soak the bread in the milk. In a blender or food processor, half an hour before serving the chiles, blend the walnuts with the cheese, soaked bread, sherry, cinnamon and sugar. The nogada sauce should be thick. Keep at room temperature until ready to serve.

For the chiles
10 small Poblano chiles, roasted, peeled and seeded
1 to 2 pomegranate(s) or
1 (2 oz/60 g) jar red pimientos
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Fill each chile with a spoonful of the pork mixture and carefully place each stuffed chile on a serving platter. Cover the chiles with the nogada sauce and garnish with pomegranate seeds and parsley.

Serve this festive dish at room temperature with good French bread on the side and celebrate the Mexican Independence.

Note: In later years, cooks wanting a smoother creamy sauce for the nogada, introduced cream cheese, but the original recipe called for queso fresco (fresh cheese), which fortunately, is now available anywhere in English North America where Mexican products are sold.


VIDEO: Chiles en Nogada with the World’s Premier Culinary College

Credit: Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio, Texas

Here is another colourful dish that can be served as an appetizer with small corn tortillas or as a salad.

Nopalitos Salad

ENSALADA DE NOPALES (Cactus Leaves Salad)
Serves 4-6 as an appetizer

4-6 cactus leaves/pads, fresh or
1 (825g) jar Nopalitos or Tender Cactus,*
1 tsp. salt
4-6 tbsp. finely chopped onion
2-4 Serrano chiles, chopped
4 sprigs fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Salt & pepper
1 large fresh tomato, sliced
1/2 cup Feta cheese, crumbled

Peel cactus leaves and remove thorns, if any. Wash with running water and slice into strips. Transfer cactus strips to a dry saucepan and cook at very low temperature stirring occasionally, for approximately 6 to 8 minutes or until the sap is gone completely and nopalitos are tender. Depending on the altitude, they might need to be cooked in water beforehand. Drain and cool.

In a salad bowl, mix nopales with the onion, chile, cilantro, oregano and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top salad with the tomato slices and the cheese.

Serve with warm tortillas.

*Cooked nopalitos would still need to be placed on a dry saucepan for a few minutes to remove the sap completely. I recommend La Costeña brand.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a little more on history of Mexico, the history of the Mexican Independence, Chiles en Nogada, and a simple but delicious Nopalitos Salad recipe. Please comment below your thoughts, and what you’d like me to write about if you have any suggestions. I’d love to hear them!

Mexican Culinary Treasures: Recipes From Maria Elena's Kitchen

Mexican Culinary Treasures: Recipes From Maria Elena's Kitchen

Maria Elena Cuervo-Lorens is the author of Mexican Culinary Treasures cookbook. She takes you back to her childhood, spent around her grandmother’s table on a shopping expedition with her mother to Mercado La Merced, and for a merienda (snack) of café con leche and bizcochos (Mexican sweet rolls) at a bakery in downtown Mexico City. The authentic Mexican recipes she shares with us include tacos, quesadillas and enchiladas. The nouvelle cuisine of cosmopolitan Mexico City, such as cuitlacoche (huitlacohe) crepes, oysters with chipotle chile.

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Memorial Day is a holiday in which we remember all those who gave their lives while serving in the US Armed Forces. MexGrocer loves and appreciates our military customers. We have been sending orders all over the globe, even to submarines for over 12 years. We have many stories we could share about these orders. Thank you to all these great people who protect our country.

Let the SUMMER begin!

Memorial day also marks the start of the summer vacation season. What best to kick off one of our favorite seasons that with Margaritas. The margarita is one of the world’s great cocktails: smooth and tangy-sweet, it goes down easily and tastes like more.

HIBISCUS MARGARITA

Hibiscus Margaritas (Photo by Sara Remington)

Yes! Margaritas!
This Hibiscus Margarita is made with a gorgeous fuschia-colored infusion of dried hibiscus, also known as flor de jamaica (pronounced ham-í-ka). Hibiscus has a sweet-tart taste that blends deliciously with a good, smooth tequila and a hint of cinnamon sugar. The syrup is also delicious as an agua fresca, poured over ice and topped off with sparkling or still water and a squeeze of lime. The infusion is rich in Vitamin C and flavonoids, a great nutritional bonus while you enjoy your margarita.

HIBISCUS MARGARITA
Adapted from Amor y Tacos by Deborah M. Schneider
Makes 1 margarita.

Chef Deborah Schneider Cookbooks1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Lime wedge
1 cup ice
4 ounces Hibiscus Syrup (recipe follows)
1 ½ ounces 100% agave blanco tequila
1 ounce sparkling water
Lime wedge or cinnamon stick

Combine sugar and cinnamon on a small plate. Rub rim of glass with lime wedge. Dip the rim of the glass in the cinnamon sugar and shake off excess.

Fill a 12-ounce glass with ice and pour over the tequila, hibiscus syrup and top up with sparkling water. Stir carefully. Squeeze the lime on top of the drink and discard it. Garnish with a fresh wedge of lime, or a cinnamon stick.

Variation:
Chill a 7-ounce martini glass, and prepare the rim as described above. In a shaker jar combine ice, hibiscus syrup and tequila, along with 1 tablespoon Cointreau or Grand Marnier. Shake well for 15 seconds and strain into the glass. Garnish with a thin slice of lime.

HIBISCUS SYRUP
Use as a base for drinks, or freeze into a delicious sorbet.
4 cups water
2 cups white sugar
2 cups dried hibiscus flower (flor de jamaica)

Combine all ingredients and simmer over low heat until sugar is dissolved, stirring often. Cook at a slow simmer for 30 minutes. Let stand 2 hours (or as long as overnight) and strain, pressing down on the flowers. Keeps indefinitely refrigerated.

About the Author:

Chef Deborah Schneider

Chef Deborah Schneider is the executive chef and partner at SOL Cocina in Newport Beach, California and Scottsdale, Arizona. She lives in San Diego with her family, married a surfer, and began exploring nearby Baja where she found her love for Mexican food. She worked her way up through the professional kitchen brigade, eventually leading some of San Diego’s finest kitchens and receiving her Certified Executive Chef designation from the American Culinary Federation in 2001. Chef Deb has been with MexGrocer.com since April 2012.

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Zucchini Flowers (Photo by Vladimix)

In many parts of the world, including the United States, Mother’s Day is celebrated the second Sunday of May. In Mexico, since 1922, May 10 was declared as a special day to celebrate Mothers. From this date, all day on May tenth, no matter what day of the week it is celebrated on, it’s MOTHER’S DAY . This tradition has become one of Mexico’s most celebrated holidays, where Mexican families meet to celebrate their mothers. Mother’s Day is perhaps the most important Mexican holiday for tasting the typical dishes of Mexican food.

In the United States celebrates Mother’s Day the 2nd Sunday of the Month of May. This tradition dates back to 1907 when Anna Jarvis began campaigning for recognition of this day as Mother’s Day at a national level, in memory of the second anniversary of the death of her mother. The first proclamation to celebrate Mother’s Day “the second Sunday in May” was given by the government of West Virginia in 1910 and was in 1911 when it began to date more popular and spread to the other states of the United States.

In Mexico, all Moms with their children, grandchildren and other in-laws, so that also becomes the day to celebrate grandmothers, daughters, daughters-in, sisters and all those women with a family who have had offspring. And, of course always celebrated and most importantly to the largest of the Mothers of Mexico: the Virgin of Guadalupe is remembered with prayers to all the Moms that are no longer are present.

From MexGrocer.com to all mothers out there, we wish you the greatest day: Happy Mother’s Day!

Zucchini Flower Soup (Sopa de Flor de Calabaza)
8 Servings, Preparation time: 25 minutes
by Jenifer Hernandez

Zucchini Flower Soup (Flor de Calabaza)

Zucchini Flower Soup

1 can of Zucchini Flowers (15 ounces in drained weight)
4.25 cups of chicken broth
1 bar of cream cheese (8oz)
1/4 onion finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1) Strain the zucchini flower and blend with the cream cheese and half of the chicken broth (2 cups).
2) Fry the chopped onion in a pan with butter until translucent.
3) Mix blend and onion in a pot and bring to a boil.
4) Add salt and pepper to taste.
5) Add the remaining chicken broth as needed for consistency during boil.

Enjoy your delicious zucchini flower soup.

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Cinco de Mayo Folk Dancing

Cinco de Mayo Folk Dancing

Few people in English North America are aware that the celebration of CINCO de Mayo commemorates the Battle of Puebla against the French, and not the Mexican Independence from Spain.  Although a celebration in its own right, it is definitely not as important for Mexicans as the celebration of Las Fiestas Patrias in September.

Some of you might be wondering how the French came to invade Mexico and how, in just a few years, left their mark in our cuisine.  It is always a surprise when in my cooking classes, I sometimes include crepes as part of the menu.  It is hard to associate the very French crepes with Mexican food, until I mention that I grew up having savory or sweet crepes as part of our meals.

It all began with napoleon III, Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew who as soon as he was settled in his role as Emperor of France, began to dream about creating an empire in Mexico.  That exotic and far away country seemed like the perfect place to appoint a catholic European prince.

In Europe at the time, according to many Mexicans living there in exile, the current Mexican government had not been functioning well as a republic, proof of which was the civil war that had devastated Mexico for almost 40 years.  In their mind Mexico needed a change and a monarchy appeared to be the perfect solution to end the war.  After all, Spain had ruled Mexico for more than 300 years.

It was not only the French who had their eyes set in Mexico, but the English and the Spaniards as well.  They all  had their own reasons to invade Mexico and in January of 1862, the first naval squadron landed in the port of Veracruz, only to find the Spanish flag in the fortress of San Juan de Ulúa.

Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (Napoleon III)

Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (Napoleon III)

Meanwhile back in France, it was not very difficult for Napoleon III to find a suitable regent for the soon to be conquered Mexico.  Ferdinand Maximilian of Hapsburg, the younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, whom simply seemed to be a liability to his brother and did not have an appropriate position in the courts, was the perfect candidate.

The Archduke Maximilian was married to Charlotte, daughter of King Leopold of Belgium who had her own dreams of becoming an empress herself.  Their idle life in the castle of Miramar had become boring and they both began to entertain the idea of ruling a country, far away from the intrigues of the European courts.

Soon after, Spain realized that her hopes of recovering their former colony was starting to vanish pretty quickly, and the English who were merely trying to collect a debt, had lost interest as well.  The French army was at this point, free to invade Mexico, but as soon as they started to trek into the hills, the tropical climate of the state of Veracruz began claiming the lives of the soldiers.  The beautiful city of Orizaba, a beautiful hill town between Veracruz and Mexico City, with its coffee plantations, tropical gardens and the majestic Pico de Orizaba, proved to be a most welcome sight.  However, along with the warm climate came malaria and other illnesses that were not part of their master plan.

Battle of Puebla on Cinco de Mayo

Nevertheless, the army continued its incursion into Mexican soil, arriving at the city of Puebla where each church had become a fort and where more that 4,000 Mexicans in shabby uniforms fighting with obsolete guns, defeated the finest European soldiers on the famous battle of CINCO de Mayo, 1862.  Unfortunately, this glorious moment was short lived, and the French army continued towards Mexico City where President Juárez had already fled the capital.

The French army commanded by General Achilles Bazaine entered Mexico City on June 7, 1863.  By this time the people were tired of the uncertainty prevalent in those days and welcomed the French troops with marked enthusiasm.  Soon after, in August of 1863, the Mexicans accepted an empire, and the following year Maximilian and Charlotte landed in Veracruz in May of 1864.  Maximilian and his 23 year old wife Charlotte ruled Mexico until February of 1867, when Maximilian fled the capital for Querétaro, and was later executed as a foreign usurper, on June 19, 1867.

The events that led to this tragic moment in the history of Mexico are too long to tell in this article and should be told in greater detail. 

 The French intervention had a strong influence on everyday life.   It created a new and enriched cuisine, especially in the capital of the country.  Many years passed before people went back to serving indigenous ingredients such as the very Mexican nopalitos (cactus pads).  This cactus leaf is nothing short of a miracle plant, as nutritionists and scientists have since discovered astounding characteristics in this unpretentious vegetable.  Extensively and imaginatively used in prehispanic and contemporary Mexican cuisine, there are now more than 150 different ways of cooking nopalitos.  Please see the recipe below for a delicious

Cactus Pad Soup or Sopa de Nopalitos

2 large ripe tomatoes, seeded

1/4 medium onion chopped

2 large cloves garlic, peeled

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1/4 cup tomato sauce

1 tbsp. chicken bouillon mix

Two – 15 oz Tender Cactus Nopales jars

1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen

1 to 2 canned chipotle chiles,

1 tsp. chipotle adobo

1 cup cubed Oaxaca or Monterey Jack cheese

In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and process until puréed.  In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the tomato mixture, tomato sauce, and chicken boullion.  Bring the sauce to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the sauce thickens slightly.

Add the broth to the tomato sauce and correct seasoning.  Add the cactus pads, corn kernels, chipotle chiles, and the adobo. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, and serve hot with the cubed cheese.

Mexican Culinary Treasures: Recipes From Maria Elena's Kitchen

Mexican Culinary Treasures: Recipes From Maria Elena's Kitchen

Maria Elena Cuervo-Lorens is the author of Mexican Culinary Treasures cookbook. She takes you back to her childhood, spent around her grandmother’s table on a shopping expedition with her mother to Mercado La Merced, and for a merienda (snack) of café con leche and biscochos (Mexican sweet rolls) at a bakery in downtown Mexico City. The authentic Mexican recipes she shares with us include tacos, quesadillas and enchiladas. The nouvelle cuisine of cosmopolitan Mexico City, such as cuitlacoche (huitlacohe) crepes, oysters with chipotle chile,

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The Ultimate Mexican Candy & Snacks Buffet

January 31, 2014

Whether you’re celebrating a party or a get together to watch your favorite game on TV, we bring you a new concept of creating the Ultimate Mexican Candy and Snacks Buffet for your guests. A buffet as it’s defined, is “a system of serving meals in which food is placed in a public area where [...]

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San Diego: The Search for the Best Mexican Take-Out

July 19, 2012

We all know that the best Mexican food is home-cooked. There’s nothing (and I really mean, nothing!) like fresh tortillas on the press, and the satisfaction that you yourself created a culinary masterpiece. But there are definitely days where I just want to go home and kick up my feet. I certainly don’t feel like [...]

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Sangria, Volcanoes, and Antigua

July 25, 2012

I stepped off the ramp, enjoying the feel of solid, non-swaying ground under my feet. After living four months on a ship, getting used to a routine of a week at sea, a week in a foreign port–I was going to savor this moment. Especially since this was the last port of call in my [...]

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Churros Con Chocolate

July 31, 2012

Once you’ve had a bite of this delicious, fried treat dipped in rich chocolate…you’ll never look at churro carts the same way again. Until three years ago, I had never known what a real churro was. Or that it is traditionally dipped in chocolate. My experience with churros had always been the theme-park version– carts [...]

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Know Your Chilies…

August 7, 2012

There are reportedly over 60 varieties of chiles, chile peppers or hot peppers, ranging from very mild to fiery hot. Chiles are a key ingredient in most Mexican food dishes. All chiles derive their heat from oils concentrated in their seeds and membranes. The heat of a chile lasts six minutes before it dissipates. Check [...]

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Mango-Jalapeño-Chicken Salad in Cumin Tortilla Bowls

August 15, 2012

This recipe combines some of my favorite ingredients in a tasty twist on chicken salad. Plus, presenting in these awesome, easy-to-make tortilla bowls is the best way to fool your diners into thinking you’re a master chef. Mango-Jalapeño-Chicken Salad in Cumin Tortilla Bowls Time to Make: 50 Minutes Vinaigrette 1/2 cup cubed peeled mango* 2 tablespoons mango [...]

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Mexican Food meets the Land of the Rising Sun

August 29, 2012

Ever wonder how Mexican cuisine features in a foreign culture such as….say, Japan? During my brief stint in Tokyo, I was craving a taste of my favorite cuisine from home. I looked up local mexican restaurants in my Lonely Planet guide, and out of the two (more than I thought there’d be!) listed, I chose [...]

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16 de Septiembre, Independencia de México.

September 6, 2012

El 16 de Septiembre de 1810 fue el día en el que se consumó la independencia de México, la cual puso final al dominio Español. A consecuencia de éste acto que desencadenó una gran pasión mexicana se celebra la noche de el 15 de Septiembre el famoso “Grito de Independencia”. Esta celebración por lo general [...]

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Mexican Independence Day with Authentic Mexican Food Recipes

September 13, 2012

In Mexico, September 16th is celebrated as the date of Mexico’s Independence from Spain. Late in the eighteenth century, the middle and upper classes in Mexico began to question the structure of their society. Influenced by the revolutions in the United States and France, they too decided they wanted freedom of speech, a representative government, [...]

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Know your tools: The Tools that Make the Cuisine

September 19, 2012

Molcajete y Tejolote A Molcajete is a stone mortar used mostly to grind chiles for salsa. Originated in the state of Oaxaca. Molcajetes come in different shapes, one very popular in central Mexico is the Pig Molcajete.

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Queso!

October 3, 2012

Cheese. It’s one of my favorite ingredients to add to recipe because it can add a superb texture and flavor to the recipe that nothing else can. But if you’re like me, an amateur cheese connoisseur, it gets confusing sometimes when it comes to picking out the right cheese. I’m not as familiar with the [...]

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Día de Los Muertos

October 18, 2012

El día de los Muertos es una fuerte tradición para la cultura Mexicana. Esta celebración  tiene como principal objetivo conmemorar a los difuntos. Su principal orígen es prehispánico y ha sido una importante tradición a lo largo de 2,500-3000 años atrás.  Las principales actividades que se  realizaban para la conmemoración consistían en conservar los esqueletos [...]

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Dia de los Muertos

October 24, 2012

What would you do if someone invited you to a fiesta in a graveyard? Would you go? Or does the mere idea of it give you a major case of the creeps?! Well, you’re not alone, amigo. In the USA we try to deny, cheat and minimize death. Not so in Mexico. In Mexico, the [...]

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Donning the Chef’s hat

November 7, 2012

Maybe some of you out there are like me. When it comes to cooking, I can hold my own, but when it gets down to the really good stuff, I’m pretty lost. That’s why I’ve taken an active interest in learning from the masters. Perhaps, like me, you’ve also never considered taking a cooking class [...]

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The Benefits of Avocado

November 14, 2012

Beyond being delicious, Avocado (the main ingredient in guacamole, in case you didn’t know) is pretty nutritious. It packs a lot of calories, but eaten in moderation, it can be a healthy, and lip-licking delicious, eat! Check out just a few of the health benefits below: Avocado is a rich source of healthy fat. What [...]

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‘Tis the season for entertaining…

November 28, 2012

The winter holiday brings a season of festivities, friends, and food. I LOVE this holiday season, who doesn’t? And MexGrocer is here to help your party planning all the way. You know we sell food, but our website also features recipes and sells decor too! Here’s something to get your inspiration kick-started for your next fiesta: [...]

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Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.

December 13, 2012

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe es una de las grandes milagrosas aparaciones de la tan renombrada por la religión Católica Romana “Virgen María”. El 9 de Diciembre de 1531 cuenta la historia que un indio llamado Juan Diego mientras caminaba hacia la Ciudad de México vió en el Monte Tepeyac la visión de una niña de [...]

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RECETA PARA VIVIR MEJOR

January 10, 2013

En un cacerola derrita la inercia, la amargura y el tedio. Unte bien con mucha risa, especialmente sobre las propias tragedias. En bol aparte, pele y corte en tiras la ansiedad, pique fino el egoísmo. Ponga en remojo el yo hasta que se macere, pero cuide de no derretirlo enteramente. El rencor (que es furia [...]

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The “Ice Cream Fruit”

January 24, 2013

I discovered Cherimoya (Chair-ee-moya) one day as I was looking at a list of fruit in season. Recognizing every fruit listed but this one, of course, my interest was sparked to do some research. Finding an article that called this the “Ice Cream Fruit” drew me in further. The fruit looks like a cross-pollination between an artichoke [...]

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Restaurant Options Abound as Mexican Cuisine Evolves

July 26, 2013

Special Article Contribution by Kathleen Furore The new Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trends Report from Technomic Inc., a Chicago-based market research firm, was full of interesting information about consumers’ preferences in ethnic cuisine. The finding that most intrigued me: only about one-fourth of people polled are satisfied with restaurants’ selection of ethnic foods. That [...]

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Pozole Tricolor

April 25, 2014

Pozole, a heartening soup and a favorite dish for people coming out late in the evening from the theater or a nightclub or, better, to cure a terrible hangover, originated in the state of Jalisco, where they use pork instead of chicken. Here’s a little more history: Background: Pre-Hispanic origin, prepared with cacahuazintle corn, pork [...]

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