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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 is healthy fat, you ask? Healthy fats are monounsaturated fats which, according to the American Heart Association, decrease harmful LDL cholesterol, raise beneficial HDL cholesterol and last but not least, lower your risk of stroke and heart disease. One-half cup of guacamole contains 15 grams of fat. The majority, about 10 grams of the 15, is monounsaturated fat, the California Avocado Commission says. There are only 2 g of saturated fat, and no cholesterol.

Finally, the avocado is an excellent source of vitamins B-6,C, K and Folate, and the minerals: copper and potassium. Folate is necessary for your body’s production of red blood cells, and it decreases your risk for cardiovascular disease. Vitamin C aids in healing by  increasing the absorption of calcium and iron,and  maintains healthy teeth, bones, gums and blood vessels. Vitamin B-6 is vital for the normal function of your neurological system, and potassium is necessary to maintain normal heartbeat and blood pressure. Avocado is high in oleic acid, which has been shown to prevent breast cancer in numerous studies.

One-half cup serving of avocado also provides about 8 grams of Fiber, too. Fiber is found in all plant-based foods, and  promotes normal bowel function, reduces the risk for heart disease (a healthy heart is a happy heart!) and diabetes by lowering your glucose  and cholesterol levels, according to MayoClinic.com.

According to Livestrong.com, “Avocados have more of the carotenoid lutein than any other commonly consumed fruit. Lutein protects against macular degeneration and cataracts, two disabling age-related eye diseases.”

All in all, sounds like every day should be guacamole day!

P.S. – This is a really cool website you should check out for tips, recipes, and facts about the amazing avocado.

http://www.avocadocentral.com/nutrition

Read more:

1.  http://www.livestrong.com/article/290000-what-are-the-benefits-of-eating-guacamole/#ixzz2CEcuZqep

2. http://www.beinglatino.us/lifestyle/health/more-than-guacamole-5-health-benefits-of-the-avocado/

3. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/PreventionTreatmentofHighCholesterol/Know-Your-Fats_UCM_305628_Article.jsp

4. http://www.avocado.org/avocado-nutrients/

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In my previous article about the celebration of Cinco de Mayo, I wrote about the intervention of the French and the famous Battle of Puebla, in which General Ignacio Zaragoza and his troops defeated the invaders.

This time I would like to elaborate more on the positive side that such an intervention left on the country and in the lives of its people during the span of just a few years. Mexican cuisine was greatly influenced by French Cuisine which, as we all know, is one of the best cuisines in the world. The French left a legacy of cream, mustard, cheese sauces and crepes that become a part of the everyday menu.

Just recently, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), named Mexican Cuisine an ‘intangible cultural patrimony of humanity,’ along with French gastronomy. Its creative use and the variety of native ingredients, not only chiles, but many distinct vegetables such as cuitlacoche, flor de calabaza (zucchini blossoms), nopales (cactus leaves/pads), quelites, huauzontles, chilacayotes, epazote, etc., blended with the Spanish and French influence, has resulted in a very complex cuisine recognized all over the world.

According to Bernal Díaz del Castillo‘s book La Verdadera Historia de la Conquista de la Nueva España (The True History of the Conquest of New Spain), the existing diet in Pre-Hispanic times was balanced and diverse. Díaz del Castillo described small green and red vegetables that the Aztecs included with all their meals, some of which were fresh and others were left to dry in the sun for several days. It is safe to assume that he was referring to the mighty chile. The Spaniards very quickly incorporated the tasty chiles into their diets, combining them with ingredients they brought from the Old Country, such as oil and garlic.

At the beginning of the 20th. century and well into the l930′s during el porfiriato (the thirty years when President Porfirio Díaz was in power), the Mexican aristocracy fully embraced French cuisine. Carmelita Díaz, the president’s wife hired a French chef, after which the President who was born in Oaxaca, had to talk to their old cook on the side in order to get some Mexican antojitos and mole from Oaxaca once in a while!

A corn fungus also spelled huitlacoche, had been around since the days of the Aztecs and was only considered a delicacy after it was served as a crepe filling to the deposed Shah of Iran and his wife Farah Dibba, during a state visit to Mexico City in the 1970′s. In fact, when the menu was published in the newspaper the President’s wife, Doña Esther as she was often called, was highly criticized for offering our distinguished guests something considered more appropriate for peasants than for such dignitaries.

Zucchini blossoms

Zucchini Blossoms

Zucchini blossoms are widely used in Italy where they are cooked in many different ways. They are usually big enough that can be filled with other vegetables, breaded and then fried. In Mexico, they are smaller in size and are usually served in soups, quesadillas, budines (casseroles), and crepes.

As it turned out, the state dinner was quite a success and Doña Esther Echevarría was ultimately commended for the superb use of native ingredients, such as cuitlacoche and zucchini flowers, throughout the menu.

As is often the case, people then began to cook cuitlacoche more and more. Chefs in expensive restaurants devised new ways of serving it and now it is widely considered a delicacy of the highest order. Thus, resurrecting these wonderful indigenous ingredients.

Crepes with Cuitlacoche

Crepes with Cuitlacoche

Crepes Filled with Cuitlacoche (Crepas Rellenas de Cuitlacoche)
4 Servings

1 (13 oz/380 g) can prepared cuitlacoche
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. flour
1 cup 2% milk
Salt and pepper
12 crepes
1/2 cup grated Manchego or Chihuahua cheese

In a small saucepan, heat the cuitlacoche and keep warm. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter, stir in the flour, and add the milk. Bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the sauce starts to thicken.

Remove from the heat. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Fill each crepe with 2 tablespoons of the prepared cuitlacoche, then roll up and place in an 8 x 12-inch rectangular baking dish.

Pour the white sauce over the crepes and top with a generous amount of cheese. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until the cheese melts and the crepes are heated through. Keep in mind that milk and cheese sauces tend to dry out very quickly, so be careful not to overbake the crepes.

Zucchini Blossom Soup (Sopa de Flor de Calabaza)
4 Servings

1 poblano chile, roasted, peeled and seeded
12 fresh zucchini blossoms or
1 (7 oz/220 g) can
2 tbsps. butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/3 cup chopped onion
4 cups chicken broth
1 zucchini, chopped
1 cup fresh or canned and drained corn kernels
Salt and pepper
1 cup Chihuahua or Monterey Jack cheese, cubed

Cut the chiles into 1/2 inch strips and set aside. Carefully remove and discard the pistil from the zucchini blossoms and, under running water gently wash the blossoms. Pat dry with paper towels and chop.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and sauté the garlic, onion, poblano strips, and zucchini blossoms until the vegetables are cooked and the onion is translucent. Add the chicken broth, zucchini, corn, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked but still firm.

Divide the soup among four bowls and top each one with cubed cheese. Serve hot.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a little more on history of Mexico, the legacy of the French, as well as the cuitlacoche and zucchini blossoms. 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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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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HIBISCUS MARGARITA

Hibiscus Margaritas (Photo by Sara Remington)

The holiday of Cinco de Mayo is a memento from Mexico’s turbulent past. In 1862, a cabal of clergy and wealthy hacienda owners who had been dispossessed by the reforms of President Benito Juarez invited a French army to invade Mexico. On May 5, 1862, this invading army was thrown back from the city of Puebla, taking severe losses, which is the battle memorialized today as Cinco de Mayo.

Possibly because it is a story of underdog triumph, Cinco de Mayo (a tiny blip of history that is less than nada in Mexico) has been adopted by Americans. It’s a light-hearted semi-holiday, best observed by enjoying a margarita and Mexican food. (In the later stages of the evening, sombreros may be worn, though this is optional.)
Margaritas, of course, are a must. The margarita is one of the world’s great cocktails: smooth and tangy-sweet, it goes down easily and tastes like more.

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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Spicy Football Snacks

by Dave Dewitt on February 4, 2016 · 0 comments

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.”

1 dozen corn tortillas, cut into wedges
Vegetable oil for frying
3/4 cup refried beans
1/2 pound grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
4 or more jalapeño chiles, stems and seeds removed, sliced in thin rings

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.

1/2 cup chopped green New Mexican chiles that have been roasted, peeled, seeds and stems removed
1 3-oz. package light cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons milk or cream
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
2 teaspoons minced cilantro
3 to 4 flour tortillas

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.

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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.

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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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.

Los altares del Día de Muertos en México, se decoran con un gran número de adornos, utilizando flores, velas, veladoras religiosas, calaveras de dulce, fotografías, papel crepe, vasijas, varios panes de muerto y platones con platillos mexicanos como: tamales, mole, nopalitos, pozole, atole, chocolate y otros dulces mexicanos y postres como el arroz de leche y la calabaza en tacha. El petate que se usa en la decoración de los altares y donde se coloca la ofrenda simboliza el lugar donde el difunto llega a descansar para disfrutar de su banquete.

Video Altar Dia de Muertos en La Jolla California.

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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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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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