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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 the Mexican Food Video – Some Like It Hot: Cuisines of Chili Climates with Rick Bayless (VHS) Chiles – Mexican food video

How to Avoid Chile Pepper Irritation
Wear rubber gloves or even small plastic bags over your hands. Don’t touch your face or rub your eyes while handling hot peppers. Slit the chile lengthwise, rinse under running water, remove and discard stem, membranes and seeds. Chop or slice as directed in recipe. Wash hands and utensils thoroughly with hot, soapy water afterward. If your mouth is on fire, try a spoonful of sugar or a bit of salt and limejuice. The heat of a chile lasts six minutes before it dissipates.

Poblano Chiles
Poblanos peppers are used in Chiles Rellenos. They are dark green and about the size of a bell pepper, but tapered at one end. They can be mild or quite hot. They’re best fresh, but also available in cans.

Serrano Chiles
Serranos are hot! They’re about an inch and a half long and bright green and used frequently in salsas. They’re best fresh, but also available in cans.

Guero Chiles
Guero or gueritos chiles are small, yellow and tapered on the end. They’re sold either fresh or pickled and are medium-hot.

Anaheim, Green Chiles or California Chiles
They are light green, mild, medium-sized and tapered at the end.

Chipotle Chiles
Chipotles are made from jalapenos that have been dried and smoked. They are sold both dried and canned in adobo, or a rich, smoky, dark reddish-brown sauce. Their flavor is uniquely delicious.

Ancho Chiles
Anchos are dried dark red poblano chiles. They’re mildly flavored and used in many sauces. All dried red chiles are best if deveined, seeded and soaked in just enough hot water to cover them for about an hour. Afterward, put them in the blender with the water and add to your recipe.

Mulato Chiles
Mulato chiles or Mulatos are frequently used when ancho chiles are called for in a recipe. It’s deep brown, longer and more tapered than the ancho and is a bit more pungent. All dried red chiles are best if deveined, seeded and soaked in just enough hot water to cover them for about an hour. Afterward, put them in the blender with the water and add to your recipe.

Guajillo Chiles
Guajillo is a dried red chile that gives more color than taste to Mexican food recipes. It’s about four to five inches long, narrow and has a smooth skin. All dried red chiles are best if deveined, seeded and soaked in just enough hot water to cover them for about an hour. Afterward, put them in the blender with the water and add to your recipe.

Cola de Rata Chiles
The Cola de Rata or Rat-tail Chile is also known as the Chile de Arbol. It’s about the size of your little finger. These are often dried , toasted and used to decorate Mexican food dishes.

Chile de Arbol
Chile de Arbol is also known as the Cola de Rata. It’s about the size of your little finger. These are often dried , toasted and used to decorate Mexican food dishes.

Chilaca Chiles
Chilacas look and taste much like the anaheim, green chile, california and guayon chiles. They are a mild chile.

Pasilla Chiles
Pasilla or Pasillas are about seven inches long and very thin. They’re dark green like the ancho, but have more fire to them.

Jalapeno Chiles
Jalapenos or Jalapeños are the most recognizable and widely used of all Mexican chiles. Rarely do you see a Mexican table without a small bowl of jalapenos from a can, pickled in escabeche with carrots and onions. They are plump, about an inch or two in length, medium to dark green and fairly hot. They’re used as a condiment, in salsa and in many other dishes.

Pequin Chiles
Pequins or piquin peppers are tiny, dried red bullets of fiery heat. They add a unique flavor to many dishes. To use, crumble the dried pod between your thumb and forefinger. Piquin peppers are also called CHILITEPINS OR CHILTEPIN PEPPERS, tiny seedy red peppers used for seasoning in salsas in combinations with other chiles. They are also used in pickling. They are very, very hot!

Habanero Chiles
Habaneros are the hottest chiles in the world! Bright orange and looking like a tiny bell pepper, their flavor is delicious, if used sparingly. They are used widely throughout southern Mexico, particularly the Yucatan. Originally discovered by the Maya, they are said to have mystical healing powers and to impart a great sense of well-being.

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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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The Mole Sauces of Oaxaca

by Dave Dewitt on February 16, 2015 · 0 comments

Mole with Sesame Seeds from Oaxaca

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 Heart cooking school located outside of Oaxaca city at Rancho Aurora, was our guide to the moles of Oaxaca. During a trip to her school, I was given lessons on preparing the famous mole negro Oaxaqueño, while Susana described her experiences with the seven famous moles. She later wrote about the moles in a Chile Pepper magazine article entitled: “My Search for the Seventh Mole.”

Susana wondered about the number seven, because there are seven regions in the state of Oaxaca, and, of course, seven days in the week. But then she read Tradiciones Gastronómicas Oaxaqueñas, in which the author, Ana Maria Guzmán de Vasquez Colmenares, noted: “There must be something magical in the number seven, for the number of Oaxacan moles coincides with the wonders of the world, the theological virtues, the wise men of Athens–and for their wisdom which elected the number seven to represent justice.”

“There may be seven moles,” say the locals, “but of the thousands and thousands of cooks, each has their own private version of all of the moles, so how many does that make?” One magazine writer suggested: “Oaxaca should be the land of 200 moles!”

For the record, the seven moles are: mole negro, mole coloradito, mole verde, mole amarillo, mole rojo, manchas manteles (“tablecloth stainer”), and mole chichilo. They are all descendants of clemole, believed to be the original moleof Oaxaca. It was quite simple, being composed of ancho and pasilla chiles, garlic, cloves, cinnamon, and coriander.

The Oaxacan moles are characterized by unusual chiles that are unique to the region. In a discussion with chile vendor Eliseo Ramirez, I learned that there are sixty chiles grown only in the state of Oaxaca and nowhere else in Mexico. Of those sixty, he carried about ten. Some of these unusal chiles in clude chiles de agua, which grow erect and are pointed at the end. The chiles chilhuacle, which are short and fat, come in two varieties, black and red. The red variety is called “the saffron of the poor” because a small amount of ground chilhuacle rojo gives are similar coloring to foods. Other unique chiles are the red-orange chiles onzas, the yellow costeño, and the pasilla Oaxaqueña (sometimes called pasilla Mexicana), a smoked pasilla that adds a chipotle-like flavor to moles.

In the market, I also learned an easy way to make moles. Instead of tediously grinding all the ingredients on a metate, the cooks would go to the Benito Juárez market, buy all their chiles, nuts, and seeds, and have them custom-ground in the special molinos, or mills in another section of the market. The result is a dark paste which is later converted into amole sauce.

Susana Trilling describes the more tedious process: “The chiles are toasted black, soaked and ground, and blended with fried tomatoes, tomatillos, and roasted garlic and onions. Then come nuts and seeds–some toasted, some fried. Almonds, peanuts, pecans, chile seeds, and sesame seeds. There are almost always more sesame seeds than any other seed or nut. They have to be fried slowly and carefully, with lots of love and attention. Hence the affectionate Mexican dicho (saying): “You are the sesame seed of my mole.”

Mole Verde goes great with chicken or pork.

There are other special ingredients which characterize the different Oaxacan moles. Avocado leaves, difficult to find in the U.S. and Canado, are used in mole negro. Fresh green herbs such as epazote and parsley are the source of the green color of mole verde. Pineapple and banana are added to manchas manteles, while string beans, chayote and chiles costeños are ingredients in mole amarillo.

Many different meats are added to moles, from chicken to beef to fish, but by far the most common meat served is turkey. In fact, turkey is so important in mole negro, that Mexican writer Manuel Toussaint noted that the turkey in the mole was as important as the eagle in the Mexican flag, and another writer suggested that to refuse to eat mole negro was a crime of treason against the homeland!

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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, chocolate became the most popular. Maybe because it is supposed to be an aphrodisiac or just because almost everyone seems to love it, chocolate has become the overwhelming favorite Valentine gift.

Since we all love chiles, and most everyone likes sweets of some sort, I’m proposing combining the two for Valentine’s Day. This may sound strange, but the combination of chiles and sweets goes back to the Mayas, who flavored their hot chocolate with fiery chiles and honey. Today, hot sweets are becoming more available, but as someone once said, the sweetest gifts are the ones you make yourself. So the following are some recipes to heat up your Valentine’s Day. Yes, these require a little more work than just going to the local candy store and buying a heart shaped box of chocolates, but isn’t the love of your life worth it?

Cascabel Caramel Turtles

Cascabel Caramel Turtles

The word cascabel means rattle in Spanish and this full-flavored dried chile probably received its name due to its shape and the fact that its seeds rattle around when you shake it. These turtles are like no others you’ve tasted before, hot as well as sweet. This recipe is from the book Sweet Heat by Melissa Stock and Dave DeWitt, Ten Speed Press.

  • 24 soft caramels
  • 2 tablespoons frozen whipped topping
  • Butter flavored vegetable cooking spray
  • 72 pecan halves
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 8 cascabel chiles, stems and seeds removed, finely crushed

In a microwave safe mixing bowl, combine the caramels and whipped topping and cook on 50 percent power for 45 seconds. Remove the bowl, stir, and place back in the microwave. Continue this process in 10-second increments until the mixture has melted and is smooth and well blended. Let the mixture cool slightly.

Spray a cookie sheet lightly with the cooking oil. Place the pecan halves on the pan in groups of 3, arranged so that each pecan group forms a “Y” shape. These form the turtle’s head and legs. Carefully spoon the caramel mixture over each, leaving the ends of the pecans showing. Set aside until the caramel has hardened.

Place the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl. Cook in the microwave on 50 percent power for 45 seconds, remove and stir, and repeat the process in 10-second intervals until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in the cascabels and let the chocolate mixture to cool slightly.

Spoon the melted chocolate over the caramel, being careful not to cover the exposed ends of the pecans.

Set aside until hard, then store in a covered container in a cool place.

Yield: 2 dozen

Heat Scale: Medium

For more food history and recipes on the subjects of Mexican and Southwestern cuisine, just click on the image below.

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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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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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Pozole comes in Red, White and Green.

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 meat, chicken and/or shrimp. Serves with vegetables, or you can make an all vegetarian version by excluding protein.
  • Red Pozole: Is typical of Sinaloa and Jalisco, usually prepared with chile guajillo salsa.
  • White Pozole: Is more popular in Central Mexico.
  • Green Pozole: Originates in the state of Guerrero, where it’s color comes from a tomatillo salsa. In some regions they add sardines, egg and chicharron.

The spicy combination of the ancho and guajillo chiles with the tomato, oregano, and cloves turns an ordinary chicken broth into the most flavorful broth for the hominy corn.

Pozole is really what we call a plato fuerte or main dish, when served with lots of chicken and all its trimmings. This recipe can be found on pg. 69 of Mexican Culinary Treasures.

RED POZOLE WITH CHICKEN
Pozole Rojo

1 whole chicken breast
1 chicken backbone
2 chicken wings
3 dried Guajillo chiles
2 dried Ancho chiles
2 large tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup chopped onion
½ tsp. oregano
½ cup tomato sauce
1 tsp. vegetable oil
4 to 5 chicken cups chicken broth
2 (900 g) cans hominy corn*, drained
Salt
6-8 corn tortillas, fried until crisp (tostadas)
Garnishes:
Chopped radishes, finely chopped lettuce, finely chopped onion, avocado slices, ground piquín chile, and quartered limes.

In 6 cups of salted boiling water, cook the chicken breast and backbone for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the chicken breast is tender. Reserving the broth, drain, remove the skin and bone, and shred the chicken breast with your fingers. Set aside, discarding the backbone and the wings.

While the chicken is cooking, stem the chiles, shake out the seeds, and wash them under running water. Soak the chiles in 1 cup of the reserved chicken broth for about 15 minutes, or until soft. Transfer the chiles with the soaking liquid to a blender and process with the tomatoes, garlic, onion and oregano until puréed.

In a soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat and fry the chile mixture for 3 to 4 minutes before adding the tomato sauce, the remaining chicken broth, hominy corn, salt to taste, and the shredded chicken. Bring the soup to a boil and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes longer to allow the flavours to mix.

Divide the pozole between soup bowls and serve hot, with the tostadas. Let everyone add their choice of garnish to their own bowl.

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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Mexican Candy & Snacks Buffet

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 the diners generally serve themselves. It is a popular method for feeding a large number of people with minimal staff.” Okay, so that’s what it means, but can you WOW! your guests? That’s what I’m positive you’re looking for. Traditionally, we think of buffets for a complete meal or for desserts, but what about the goodies, fruits and snacks with a Mexican flair. Your guests will love this! Check out the video on how we have our setup:

As you will notice, we have chosen a variety of mexican candy, fruits, snacks and chips (most of which you can find on our store if you need them delivered right to your home). Below is a list of the items, but you’re always welcome to choose whatever you like. Make them sweet, make them sour, make them crunch or spicy hot, make them healthy concious, make them colorful, make them simple. It’s real Mexican, real simple and really good.

Below is another picture for the layout of your buffet counter:

Mexican Candy & Snacks Buffet Layout

Enjoy! And please share with us in the comment below what your ultimate Mexican candy and Snacks buffet would have for your favorite guests.

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