I heard a TV football announcer once say, “It’s a perfect day for football weather.” For most of us, that means the weather inside your house in front a large-screen TV with a cold beverage of choice and some hot and spicy snacks. The ones I’ve picked out are easy to make and a lot less expensive than buying everything already prepared. Get ready to kick off, and kick up your heat level a bit.
El Paso Nachos, photo by Wes Naman
El Paso Nachos
This appetizer has become so popular that you don’t have to travel to Texas to enjoy it, although nachos you buy outside the Southwest may bear little resemblance to the “real thing.”
In a large skillet, fry the tortillas in 1 1/2 inches of oil, at 350 degrees, until crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Arrange the tortillas on a pan or oven-proof plate. Place a small amount of beans on each chip and top with the grated cheese. Heat the pan under the broiler until the cheese melts or microwave the plate for 3 to 4 minutes.
Top with the sour cream and jalapeño slices and serve immediately.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Heat Scale: Medium
Green Chile Tortilla Pinwheels
This is an all-purpose filling that also goes well on crackers and finger sandwiches. Thin it with milk or light cream to make a great dip for chips or vegetable crudities.
Combine all the ingredients, except the tortillas, in a bowl and mix well.
Wrap the tortillas in a damp towel and place in a warm oven to soften. Spread the cream cheese mixture on the tortillas and roll each tortilla as you would a jelly roll. Slice each roll into 1/2-inch thick rounds.
Yield: 48 to 60 pinwheels
Heat Scale: Medium
For more food history and recipes on the subjects of Mexican and Southwestern cuisine, just click on the image below.
These are perfect snacks to enjoy during your favorite games on TV!
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.
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.
Third, 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.
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.
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.
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 from MexGrocer.com
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
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.
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 from MexGrocer.com
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
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.
My friend Gwyneth Doland writes in her book, Tantalizing Tamales: Although we don’t know for sure the exact origin of tamales we can see from pots and carvings that, for the ancient Mayans, tamales were their daily bread. (The word comes from the Nahuatl tamalii and tamal is the correct singular form, but tamale is more common.) Researchers believe it is likely that tamales originated in Mesoamerica and eventually spread throughout Latin America and beyond. As an ancient precursor to fast food, the supremely portable tamale provided satisfying and nutritious meal for people on the go—and it still does. Tamales are a popular menu item in Latin American and Mexican restaurants and market stalls, but for most home cooks, the effort required to prepare tamales (as opposed to tacos or burritos) means they are mostly made on celebration days. Christmas, New Year’s, the Day of the Dead, weddings, birthdays and baptisms are often celebrated with a feast of tamales.
MexGrocer.com is totally on top of the tamale situation, so see their special Tamale Section, here.
Grilled Green Chile Cheese Tamales with Avocado Cream
Grilled Tamales Awaiting the Avocado Cream
Here’s one of the most unusual tamale recipes you will ever find, and your first thought will be: Oh no, not a grilled tamale! But it works–if you can keep the corn husks from burning. And for that, be armed with a spray bottle filled with water. These tamales can be served as an entree or as a side dish. You can tie the tamales together with string or with a thin strip of corn husk. Serve with Mexican rice, squash with tomatoes and green chile, and flan for dessert.
15 dried corn husks
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon instant masa mix
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole kernel corn
Green Chile Cheese Filling:
6 to 8 green New Mexican chiles, roasted, peeled, stems and seeds removed, cut in strips
1/3 cup finely chopped onions
6 ounces asadero cheese, coarsely grated or substitute Monterey Jack cheese
1/3 cup chopped black olives
2 medium avocados, peeled and chopped
2 jalapeño chiles, stems and seeds removed, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped onions
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
Sour cream, chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
Place the corn husks in water in a large bowl, weigh down with a plate and soak for 30 minutes or until soft.
Combine the cornmeal, milk, butter, masa, sugar and salt in a saucepan and simmer for a couple of minutes. Cool and add the corn.
Drain the husks, pat dry with paper towels, and lay on a flat surface. Place two together, overlapping a little. Spread some of the cornmeal mixture on a husk, cover with chile strips, then onions, olives, and cheese. Place another layer of the cornmeal on top, pull the husks over the top and tie at both ends. Repeat until you have 6 packets.
Arrange the tamales around the edge of a high heat grill. Cook until the filling sets, turning occasionally, spraying with water to keep the husks from burning. It will take 45 to 60 minutes.
Place all the ingredients for the avocado cream in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth
To serve, slice open the tamale, spoon in the avocado cream, top with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with the cilantro.
Yield: 6 tamales
Heat Scale: Medium
La tradición de celebrar el Día de Muertos el 2 de Noviembre nos trae muchos recuerdos y nostalgia a todos los que tenemos raíces latinas y especialmente quienes son de origen Mexicano, ya que nuestros antepasados vienen celebrando este día, lleno de nostalgia, cultura prehispánica y tradiciones por muchos siglos. El saborear un Pan de muerto es una parte muy tradicional ligada a estas fechas.
El día de Muertos se celebra un día después del día de Todos los Santos y dos días después de la fiesta Americana de Halloween o noche de brujas, que de por si tiene también muchas tradiciones como el pedir dulces casa por casa a cambio de no hacer una travesura, disfrazándose los niños y mezclando un poco motivos relacionados con estas fechas. En estos días hay quienes hacen poesías o versos que mencionan el día de la muerte y utilizan personajes vivos para hablar de ellos, como si fuera algo triste, pero realmente se considera una broma y se denominan: Calavera o Calaveras, como por ejemplo ésta “calavera” que fue elaborada por Jaime Mirman para MexGrocer.com:
Surtida de la “A” a la “Z”
Ganó MexGrocer renombre,
Partió Nacho como un hombre
Que ha conseguido su meta.
Al acercarse el Día de Muertos se acostumbraba ir a los cementerios unos días antes y decorar las tumbas con altares llenos de fotografías o imágenes, calaveras azúcar, flores de cempasúchil y platillos de comida Mexicana que les gustaban a los difuntos comer cuando estaban vivos. Estos altares de muertos, también se acostumbra poner en las casas y los mantienen durante toda la temporada recordando a los difuntos. Los familiares suponen que las almas que ya partieron regresan con los vivos a convivir y compartir esos días en una reunión de almas disfrutando juntos el colorido de las flores en el altar con las decoraciones y luego comen con ellos todo tipo de guisos con recetas Mexicanas, pero especialmente el sabroso Pan de Muerto. Aquí se pueden ver algunos de estos Videos del Día de Muertos.
El Pan de muerto constituye una parte muy tradicional en los altares de muertos. Sus formas son muy variadas siendo la más tradicional la redonda con bolitas simulando canillas o huesos de las extremidades. Esta forma redonda algunos la consideran como si fuera una flor con sus pétalos y pistilos, pero otros dicen que simboliza una tumba o la forma de un cráneo rodeada con huesos (canillas) que apuntan al centro. Su sabor de los panes de muerto es el de un biscocho Mexicano a base de pan de huevo con leche y mantequilla con un aroma de azahar o flor del naranjo y espolvoreado con azúcar en la parte superior. Para la cultura latina la muerte se venera, honra y utiliza como un símbolo que puede servir para jugar y hasta espantar como burlándose de ella. Es por eso que la tradición de las calaveras de azúcar se pone el nombre de las personas y las familias buscan comprar aquellas que tienen el nombre de cada uno de los familiares.
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 symbol of death is a grinning, fleshless beauty called La Muerte-Lady Death (La Catrina). An elegantly and colorfully clad skeleton wearing a flower-laden hat, created by press artist José Guadalupe Posada (1853-1913), she’s an amazing metaphor of life embracing death. You can feel this in her name, for she goes by La Catrina-Fancy Lady, La Flaca-Skinny, La Huesuda-Bony and La Pelona-Baldy. There’s humor here, not fear. What’s up with that?!
The renowned Mexican poet, Octavio Paz put it this way back in 1959:
“The word death is not spoken aloud in New York, in Paris, in London, because it burns the lips. The Mexican, in contrast, is familiar with death, chases after it, mocks it, courts it, hugs it, sleeps with it; it is his favorite toy and his most lasting love.”
How did nextdoor neighbors-the US and Mexico-develop such wildly divergent attitudes toward death? And how did what was originally a pagan holiday survive the invasion of Catholicism? History holds the answer to those questions. Día de Muertos has its roots in pre-Columbian tradition where the people felt deeply connected to and lived harmoniously with the Earth. They viewed the cycle of life-conception, birth, growth, maturity, decline and death as part of a great and mysterious whole. Spiritually, rather than materialistically grounded, they felt themselves to be one with all that had ever existed or would exist-on this planet and in our universe. For these reasons, death didn’t scare them, nor did they try to outsmart it.
Although the holiday’s exact origin is uncertain, it’s believed that it began with the Olmecs about 3000 years ago. They saw life as an illusion and believed that in dying, human beings truly awakened and their souls were set free. The Olmecs transmitted their ideas to the Toltecs and Mayans in Central America, who later shared them with the Aztecs, Tlaxcaltec, Chichimec, Tecpanec and other Indians native to Mexico.
When the Spaniards defeated the Aztecs in the 1500′s, they converted the Indians to Catholicism. However, they encountered resistence when attempting to eradicate all native religious traditions. In a compromise sanctioned by the Church, Día de Muertos was merged with two Christian holidays-All Saints Day on November first and All Souls Day on November second. This makes it a thoroughly unique, cross-cultural holiday, effectively blending two very different traditions. In that regard, it is symbolic of the Mexican people, for they are also a synthesis of the brown-skinned “people of the earth” and their white-skinned conquerors, the “people of the “sky”-as the Spanish were initially called.
True to its roots, Día de Muertos or Day of the Dead is a celebration, not of death but of the continuum of life. It consists of prayerful reflection, joy and revelry honoring those who came before. In a culture without written family trees, parents and grandparents pass stories on to their children. These aren’t boring lists of names, facts and dates, but lively, humorous tales about those who came before. Their favorite foods, passions and possessions are discussed, along with their triumphs, their foibles and all sorts of other anecdotal details about their lives-forging a tangible, emotional link between the past and the present.
So now that we have a little background on the holiday-onward-to the graveyard fiestas, amigo! One more thing before we go. Be advised that there’s no connection between Día de los Muertos and Halloween whatsoever. This holiday is as important to Mexicans as Thanksgiving is to us. It’s a time when people travel long distances to be with their families, some coming from as far away as the northern US.
So-here we go! It’s the last week in October in a rural Mexican village. Along the sides of the roads and in the open-air marketplace, homemade stands pop up. They’re filled with pan de muerto – a special sweet bread with crossed bones on top (recipe follows article), amaranth seed skulls with raisin eyes and peanut teeth, candied Marzipan and chocolate skulls called calaveras, roasted corn or elotes, dancing skeletons or calacas carrying cardboard coffins, votive candles, and mountains of golden yellow marigolds-the flowers used to summon the spirits of the departed.
By October thirty-first, we see altars springing up in every home. As we stroll down the cobblestone streets, we notice that the front doors are wide open. We see entire families joining together in decorating tables topped with wooden crates and lace table cloths. They’re covered with marigolds or zenpasuchitl, along with the purchases from the street vendors. There’s an abundances of candles, pictures of saints and photos of the deceased. In homes where there have been children who died, we see toys, balloons, piñatas. Even clothing and tiny pairs of shoes. Suspended from the ceilings are rectangular sheets of yellow, pink, Orange, blue and green papel picado-tissue paper with cutouts-that impart an airy feeling reminiscent of the sky at sunset. We inhale pungent, delicious aromas. The smell of the marigolds. The strong odor of copal incense, mixed with the chocolate-nut-and-chile aroma of mole and the earthy, meaty smell of tamales. We see pottery urns of mescal or pulque (native drinks made from cactus) and bottles of tequila. Our attention is momentarily diverted by a band of mariachis strolling down the middle of the sidewalk, playing, singing and laughing, followed by a troop of children.
November first, All Saints Day is reserved for honoring the children, or angelitos. Early in the morning we head toward the local graveyard, where the family members are cutting down weeds, raking, touching up chipped plaster and repainting the tombs. Decorations are springing up here too. We see crosses made from marigold petals, elaborate multi-colored floral wreaths and artificial flower arrangements, along with more of the fruits, vegetables, goodies, photos, personal mementos and statues we saw in the homes. It’s colorful. It’s powerful. It’s noisy. At 2:00 p.m. a hush falls over the crowd as the priest appears to conduct an open-air mass. Relatives huddle together, mourning their dead with la llorada-the weeping. It chokes every one of us up. At sunset, hundreds of candles are lit, mingling with the powerful scents of the food, incense and flowers. At midnight, the church bells begin to toll, summoning the dead. Many families will spend the entire night here, remembering their loved ones with recitations of the Rosary and praying that they will come and partake of the aromas of their favorite foods.
On November second the entire village gathers in the cemetery for the big fiesta. It’s packed. Every family has a picnic basket, plus beer and tequila for toasting the departed. Street vendors are selling tacos, tamales, shrimp and fruit cocktails, drinks and fireworks. Mariachis compete with one another and with the occasional radio blasting Mexican Ranchero music. At the close of the all-day festivities, multi-colored explosions light up the sky. Then the ancestors return to heaven and it’s over until next year.
To celebrate Día de Muertos in your own home, try making an altar to honor and remember your ancestors. Then cook up some Pan de Muerto, some colorful Sugar Skulls and serve after a luscious, soulful, authentic meal consisting of Mole and Tamales. Some real Mexican tequila for slow, thoughtful sipping with this feast just might be in order too!
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
This 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.
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
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.
Here is another colourful dish that can be served as an appetizer with small corn tortillas or as a 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.
*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
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.
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 viene acompañana de un grande festejo entre los estados Mexicanos. La fiesta consiste en el establecimiento de las “Fiestas Patrias” las cuales son constituídas por juegos mecánicos, comidas típicas mexicanas, grupos musicales y presentaciones folklóricas.
El “Grito de Dolores” según la tradición mexicana es un llamado que el cura Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla dio la noche del 15 de Septiembre. A lado de el cura Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla venia el Capitán de el Ejército Realista Mexicano Ignacio Allende y el Insurgente Mexicano partícipe en el proceso de independencia Juan Aldama. El “Grito” consistió en tocar las campanas de la parroquia de Dolores ubicada en el estado de Guanajuato proclamando el inicio de la guerra de Independencia. La tradición consiste en tocar las campanas de dicha parroquia mencionando o proclamando las siguientes frases:
¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron Patria!
¡Viva Josefa Ortíz de Domínguez!
¡Viva Aldama y Matamoros!
¡Viva la Independencia Nacional!
¡Viva México! Viva México! Viva México!
Toca la campana y ondea la bandera Mexicana.
El pueblo entusiasta responde con gran pasión “Viva Mexico!” y celebra con fiestas y cantos mexicanos. Es la tradición más pasional que tiene México. Cada estado de la República Mexicana tiene sus respectivos y muy esperados festejos. Esta fecha conmemora el esfuerzo de el pueblo mexicano contra la conquista Española. Es asi como la celebración se lleva a cabo. !Esperemos con mucho orgullo nuestro 16 de Septiembre! ¡Viva México!
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 [...]
Guest Post by Nancy Gerlach. The tradition of exchanging cards on St. Valentines Day began during the Middle Ages. The giving of flowers to attract the attention of a new partner also originated in Europe. Over the years, sweets and candy were added to the list of popular Valentine gifts. And of all the sweets, [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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, [...]
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.
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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: [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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. [...]
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 [...]
When people think of Mexican moles they usually conjure up the chocolate-laced moles of the state of Puebla. But Puebla is not the only state in Mexico with a reputation for moles. Oaxaca, in the south, lays claim to seven unique moles–and dozens and dozens of variations. Susana Trilling, who owns the Seasons of My [...]